Shaping Our “Life Filters”
The following tables list some common human attributes and attitudes. These are characteristics that might be found in a father, mother, authority figure or even a peer. The expression of these traits will have an effect upon the development of a person and that contributes to creating his or her unique set of Life Filters. Different attitudes and feelings will manifest depending upon the way in which a person responds to the influence of a particular characteristic or combination of characteristics.
Common emotions, reactions, and traits shape many things about who we are, how we think, what we feel, how we cope and what we believe. As a result, there is a strong correlation between the relationship or the lack thereof that we have with our parents, authority figures, and peers and the way in which we understand and view the spiritual world and God Himself.
Table 1 lists some positive Life Filter influences and their effects. Table 2 illustrates the possible effects of negative Life Filter influences and attributes on an individual’s view of God. These influences may come from any of a number of sources and can have detrimental effects on a person’s general world view. They may create a significant distortion of the scriptural depiction of God.
It is a very difficult, if not an impossible task to interact with God and scripture without the influences of this life filter “baggage” that we all carry. A cloud of personal Ideolatry emanates from the sum total of all of these and other factors. One might imagine that the lack of positive influences might distort our view. However, how much more distorted might our view become if we are confronted with a barrage of negative attributes throughout our lives?
Table 3 illustrates how the absence of some of the positive traits might further influence and even promote a negative Life Filter view of God.
The results of positively modeled influences can reinforce a positive attitude toward God, assuming the individual acknowledges that God exists. The presence or absence of these and other attributes and influences shape an individual’s opinions of God. These factors create perceptions that influence a person’s view of both the existence and character of God. They will also profoundly affect a person’s understanding of scripture and the perception of how God deals with man. A truly successful understanding of God, His purpose for and relationship with the individual human spirit requires a separation from these influences.
This is not easy, but God does provide us with the tools we need to accomplish this “humanly” daunting task. They are found in His Word, the Bible. However, the totality of our Life Filters, our cloud of Ideolatry, prevents us from even acknowledging Him and keeps us from seeing the bigger picture of God’s true character. We must be careful and not allow our Life Filters to reflect the adage, “You can’t see the forest for the trees.”
Try a different approach instead and consider God as nurturing and tender-hearted, providing emotional and spiritual support in Biblical accounts. Try hard to recognize the completeness of His nature, rather than only the fragment that you may currently comprehend. If you read through Ideolatry, be open-minded to view God in ways that your emotions and Life Filters may not understand. If you are someone that does not acknowledge God, this will block your discovery. Please try to be open and let the Truth of God’s Word explain itself.
The interpretation of God that an individual adopts emanates from the perspective gained through family, peers, education, and their environment. It has been said that “Perception is Reality.” The fact is that there is a supreme and all-encompassing “Reality” or “Absolute Truth,” which is God. However, man’s concept of truth tends to change based on his perceptions and perspective.
Life Filters are a big part of the formation of the “reality” of the individual. Overcoming the burdens of Life Filters can go a long way toward reshaping reality into alignment with actual truth. It is a challenge that is worth the effort. You can certainly learn from your past experiences, but you should not let them completely define you and your life. Search out the things that have negative influences on your reality and see them for what they are, not the persecution or punishment of God, but the failings of imperfect men and women like yourself. Turn the page on your Life Filters and let your “Reality” be shaped by “Real” truth (see page 76 of Ideolatry).
Chapters in Ideolatry explore the concept of “truth” that is created based upon individual or collective perspectives, and explores the truth about the “Acts of God.”
May God richly bless you in all that you do! - Dr Rich Masek
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