Perceived reality. It's very much a challenging concept. We each have our own, but rarely are will willing to allow others to have their own.
People perceive life differently. We each have our own unique set of circumstances that make up how we few the world we live in. Often times even the ones closest to us see the world a little different than us and that being the case one can only imagine how different it get's as the circle of influence gets larger.
Take money for example. For some $40k a year is a lot of money. For others, that's one months salary. Many live on less than $1 a day ($365 a year) and for many of us, that wouldn't even last 2 weeks. Our perception of money and how much it takes to live is drastically varied from person to person; town to town; state to state; country to country.
If we understand that so well in some areas of our lives, why are we unwilling to allow others to have a different reality than us when in comes to following God. I'm not saying that we through all doctrine out the window, nor am I suggesting that we let people believe whatever they want to believe. What I am saying is, similarly to my blog yesterday, that we need to try and understand other people and how they perceive reality before we completely write off what they believe.
I know a great deal of people who have always lived by the rules. They find comfort in knowing they have general guidelines to follow and in turn they can keep their heart in check because they have drawn lines in the sand to keep them within bounds and give them some control over their lives. For instance, the Bible says not to get drunk so they don't drink. There might be several reasons why they adhere so tight to that rule. For some it could be that they have an addictive personality and want to prevent themselves from getting addicted, others they may have family that has abused alcohol, yet others it could be that they have always been taught it was wrong so they stick to their convictions.
In the same area, we have other Christians who partake nightly, weekly, or monthly in the consumption of alcohol. They abide by the general concept of don't get drunk, but don't believe they have to fully abstain; after all Jesus turned water into wine.
One could argue it's all about how you read the Bible, but I would suggest that even how we read the Bible is often influenced by our perception of reality. Try to read a few stories from the Bible and picture them in your head. Now think about how those images in your head came to be. What are you using for reference points to know how to imagine what is going on. Do you understand the culture in which the story was written in well enough to formulate an image the is accurate or is your perception of reality effecting it.
I say all of this, because I have found that often times when we argue with someone we haven't taken the time to try and see what they see and how they perceive reality. Sometimes changing one piece of reality could really shake them to their core. Perhaps it is better left to God to show them new things. Perhaps it's God has shown them things He has yet to show you.
There are several basic concepts that are without a doubt true Biblical truths that Christians have to agree on. Other concepts really aren't that important and ultimately it could come down to the fact that none of us really know. We might like to think that we do and we may even have a lot of research to back up our beliefs, but we have to leave room to say, "I could be wrong," "I was wrong," or "I'm still learning." After all, a God that we can fully understand is a God that we have created in our minds.