Written by cycleguy on January 22nd, 2013

You have probably read or heard the following fable.  If not, then consider it:

There is an old fable about six men blind from birth who lived in India.  One day they decided to visit a nearby palace.  When they arrived, there was an elephant standing in the courtyard.  The first blind men touched the side of the elephant and said, “An elephant is like a wall.”  The second blind man touched his trunk and said, “An elephant is like a snake.”  The third man touched his tusk and said, “An elephant is like a spear.”  The fourth touched his leg and said, “An elephant is like a tree.”  The fifth blind man touched his ear and said, “An elephant is like a fan.”  The sixth man touched his tail and said, “An elephant is like a rope.”  Because each blind man touched a different part of the elephant none of them could agree on what the elephant is really like.

Bringing that analogy into the spiritual realm brings up several scenarios.

The most obvious is how people have misconceptions about God and what He is really like.   For example, it is real popular to talk about and like a God of grace and mercy.  And He is.  If not I’m in deep, deep trouble.  But at the same time, those same people don’t like to think of a God of justice and wrath.  Another is hearing that God is Omniscient (All-Knowing), but believing God has limited knowledge (Open Theism).  He can’t know tomorrow and is surprised by things happening.  (Picture God with the McCauley Caulkin look on the packaging from Home Alone).

Another scenario is when we have misconceptions about people.  We jump to conclusions about motives (very dangerous to judge).  We write people “off” as Losers.  We have a misconception of who they are based on several factors.  Jo called me on something I said the other day.  We were driving and a jogger was running with her back to traffic on a pretty narrow road.  I commented, “Idiot.”  (Yeah, real nice coming out of my mouth).  She said, “I don’t like that name.  I don’t like to be called that.”  You see, she works at the BMV and has been called every name in the book, and then some,  so she knows the sting of unwarranted comments.   I have no clue why she was running with her back to traffic.  Perhaps she had just crossed over and was turning down a street.  My misconception judged her- and worse- called her a not-so-nice name.

Be careful of having misconceptions.  It saves a lot of embarrassment…like having to apologize.  It also saves from wrong views that need corrected.  Do you fight misconceptions on a daily basis or is it a rare “ugly” that rears its head?


22 Comments so far ↓

  1. Bill, I’m sure that I have misconceptions about God. I believe that one day in glory I will stand there with people from other Christian traditions and we will look at each other and say we missed the boat.

  2. jeff says:

    I am sure everyone has misconceptions of God since it is based on belief rather than fact. Thats why there have been so many Gods over the century. Science and inquiry and reason have eliminated many misconceptions over the centuries and will continue to do so. As for name calling I find it a bit juvenile and probably not conducive to winning the hearts of Owen county.

    • cycleguy says:

      Yes it was quite juvenile. I was using it to illustrate the point I was trying to make. Second, (and this does not excuse it) it didn’t take place in Owen County. We were close to an hour away. I will learn from that and not use that term to describe someone again. 🙂

  3. Daniel says:

    I am always so surprised at how easily ugly words erupt from my mouth. Now matter how much I try I just cannot seem to find a cork that will stay put.

  4. Craig says:

    Great post Bill. Judging a book by its cover – a jagged pill to swallow when I realize I do that more often than I care to admit.

    So many people come to church with a “chip” on their shoulder about God or organized religion – that is why it is SO important to hear their story. What happened in life that fueled that chip on their shoulder?

    thanks Bill!

  5. For me, it’s not so much that I have misconceptions. I’m sure I have a TON. The kicker is will I actually take the time to figure them out and address them?

  6. Betty Draper says:

    All I can say brother is how blessed you are to have a helpmate who loves her husband enough to call him on things that can destroy your integrity.

    I too often make quick judgements without the full information of a person. How rooted we can be in pride without knowing it till something hateful comes out of our mouth. And nobody knows this better then those who are close to us. We tend to let our guard down with them, forgetting they are affected by our words more then anyone. A very honest convicting post…thanks.

    • cycleguy says:

      I am blessed Betty. I am glad she spoke up (which she often doesn’t do). Takes someone bold enough to bring us down from our pedestal to help us see our pride. Good point.

  7. floyd says:

    At the risk of sounding too proud, I’ve strived diligently to try not to judge others based on what I see at a glance. Given time and experience it could be that a person is truly foolish, but even then it should be the compassionate and wise side that feels for their lostness. I’m not saying I’m close to being perfect, I just get judged myself on a regular basis. Part of me stays the way I am to remind myself of this very fact. God looks at the heart… and I don’t know any human that has that gift.

  8. That example hit close to home! It wasn’t a jogger, but I had some not so nice thoughts about a driver yesterday. I don’t think I said anything other than, “can you believe this guy?” but I judged and it wasn’t right. Great reminder that “little” things are just as important to guard against. Thank you, Bill.

  9. Eileen says:

    I do struggle with the quick to judge on occasion, Bill. I hate it too. God usually finds a way to remind me of what I am doing and I am reminded, once again, how much I am in need of His grace.

  10. Debbie says:

    This was a wonderful look at something we all have to deal with, because we can’t know it all! I have found out through blogging, that talking about God’s wrath and judgement is kind of a no no. 🙂 People don’t want to hear about that, and I understand! Here, I can be sarcastic and have passed it on .. and sometimes kind of in play, we call names . ..and it’s all kind of not the best of ideas to foster! Praying for more of His grace to change me and lead me out of this!

  11. Mike says:

    Unfortunately I sometimes fall victim to my mouth spewing things it shouldn’t. Oh, the sting of our humanity.

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