So I try to be like you
Try to feel it like you do
But without you it's no use
I can't see what you see
When I look at the world.

    The idea that we can't see everything that God sees about our life can be both a comforting thought--things may be better than we can tell, or a disturbance--we might be missing something crucial we're supposed to know.  I often question why I choose to believe in an intangible God in a tangible world.  Sometimes it seems easiest to just live by what I can see, and try to determine what I know from that. 
      In my literature classes, we have paid a lot of attention to the idea that we create the world around us by filtering information through our individual will--in short, we see what we want to see, and hear what we want to hear.  It's the existentialist view of life--we control our own destiny and we always have a choice at how we will view the world around us, even our circumstances.  Shakespeare has obviously thought a lot about this too, writing plays with "As You Like It" and "What You Will" in the titles.  And doesn't that sound so simple?  To settle for what we can see, not meddling beyond what we percieve and feel.

     When we try to separate ourselves from God and limit ourselves to what is tangible, we end up losing a part of life without knowing it. We lose any real conception of Truth.  It's true that how we react to things has been shaped by our experiences (both our nurture and our nature, so to speak).  For instance: soon after he crosses the city line into the suburbs, a young black man gets unnecessarily pulled over by a white cop (it happens more than we'd like to believe in our "advanced, tolerant society").  After talking down to the boy and making him feel like a criminal (more precisely, scared the daylights out of him), the cop lets him go.   The boy immediately concludes that he was pulled over because the cop was another white biggot, and because he is black.  On the other hand, the cop has dealt with a lot of criminals that are black, either from personal experiences or stories exchanged around the station, and has a negative reaction engrained in his head whenever he hears bass notes blasting from an automobile made before 1995.  In a situation like this it's almost impossible to find good clean justice.  There is too much history, too many occurences that have lead up to this event to judge from the whole truth of the situation.
       Where is the truth in a situation like this?  We can dig deep into the pasts of both the cop and the boy, and find justification for their actions and reactions.  But because black people don't have a good reputation in that town, say, due to last week's bank hold up (by a black man), does the boy deserve to be degrated?  By only going by the tangible evidence of this case--what we see or have seen--it would be very difficult to find pure truth. Does that mean pure truth doesn't exist?
       A better example comes from Othello and Iago.  Iago convinces Othello that his wife is cheating on him, by making thing "seem" real, when in actuality they are false.  Shakespeare tortures us, his audience, by forcing us to watch Othello get sucked into the lie all the way to Desdemona's death.  Can we rightfully say Desdemona has been unfaithful, just because Othello sees and hears and feels that Desdemona has been unfaithful?  Indeed no, we are aware of the truth throughout the play--we witness events that Othello is offstage for (like Iago's revealing soliloquys and conversations with his confidant, Roderigo).  In a way, Shakespeare places us in a god-like position of being aware of the objective truth, one that goes beyond what is tangible to Othello. 

     The older and more experienced we get, the more difficult it becomes to percieve things the way they truly are.  Our mind turns into a filter that creates ideas by combining perception and experience, until at last we have knowledge based on all kinds of biases we aren't even aware of.  If we limit ourselves to this knowledge, we are shortchanging ourselves;  we are denying the outlet of Truth that Jesus has laid out for our disposal-- by becoming a man, walking around in our sandals, and then paying the price for our sins.  In a completely cheesy way (and I apologize), Jesus sits as the knowing audience member that sits through our lives.  But He offers His omniscient characteristics in a way that goes beyond the role of an audience--He gives us each the opportunity to share in his knowledge.  In that way, our faithfilled lives resemble a performance of Peter Pan--where Peter can at any time address the audience to applaud tinkerbell back to life, rather than  a performance Othello who has no luxury of convenient audience interaction.  Imagine watching Othello in Act V when he rattles off the lovely speech before suffocating his wife, and at the end of the speech turns to the audience and says, "I don't know guys, should I kill her?" The audience responds in random desperation, "No! She's innocent! You've been had! Iago is a villain and he planted that handkerchief.  Don't kill her!"  Othello wakes up Desdemona and tells her he's sorry, before slicing Iago's throat.

     If God is an audience member to our biased little lives, He proves a more valuable one.  His knowledge expands far beyond how the Iago's are, and goes straight to the nature ouf our hearts.  When we are caught in a situation when Truth seems gray,  He stands with us, begging us to take part in His Truth.  Proverbs tells us to trust in the Lord with all our heart, and lean not on our own understanding.  Though our understanding is limited, His love is infinite. 
     So, why do I choose to follow an intangible God, invisible to this world?  The U2 quote at the top describes a piece of understanding that all believers arrive at sometime during their walk with Jesus:  The knowledge that we are limited in our understanding, and that God sees things differently. If we only look at the world through our flesh-perception, we miss much of the beauty and Truth.    I see the song as a plea, "God help me see things the way they are." 

That's what I told some friends what I wanted for Christmas.  "The ability to see things for what they really are."  (well, that and an all expense trip around the world, and three years to take it...)  I believe that if I stick with Jesus while I'm living in this world, one day, I will see things the way He does.

--Oh, and sorry if I'm repeating ideas in these essays.  I've probably made the same points before.

December 23, 2002
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