It seems that more than once in high school or college I was so absorbed in the process of listening to my teacher and scribbling away at notes that I never really paused to consider what he or she actually "looked" like. On one of the more striking occasions I was left briefly stunned when looking in the face of a teacher while handing in a final term paper. What stunned me was the apparent disparity between the mental image I had constructed of that person and what was actually in front of me.
Perhaps a more common but similar experience for people may involve radio disk jokeys or news commentators. With enough exposure to that person you begin to feel that you really "know" them - their temperment, quirks, likes, dislikes, and general world view. From this information we automatically construct a mental image which we feel is suitable for all of those qualities. We become so sure of the reality of our constructed mental image that oftentimes the real image of that person is disconcerting.
The real image of that person may evoke an entirely different set of qualities that are in direct conflict with the persona we feel we are already aquainted with. If the contrast between the two perceptions is so great that it seems irreconcialable to the mind, sometimes our only option is to simply ignore one of them. This was certainly the case with my teachers in school - because I could not reconcile my perception of their personality with their face, I was forced to remember them by their personality only.
On an even deeper level, I have had similarly disconcerting experiences reading the words, listening to the music, or viewing the art of people with whom I was very aquainted with. So stark was the difference in perception between the two "people" that I may have involuntarily withdrawn or felt ackward for awhile in their presence. If I couldn' t mentally reconcile the two "people" I would likely adopt a dualistic approach to those individuals - assigning entirely different personas to their everyday and creative personalities.
Over the years I have come to the conclusion that my own understanding of just about everyone is pitifully shallow. Some people I have known for what their physical presence evokes - their appearence, mannerisms, how they carry themselves. Others I have known for what I thought was their "personality", or at least that part of themselves revealed through spoken words alone. Finally there are those whom I have known only through their creative expressions - their artwork, poetry,or music.
If our understanding of one another is so shallow, how much more shallow is our understanding of God, who made man in his own image? (Genesis 1:27) If our bodies, words, and innermost beings can evoke such different personalities separately - why wouldn't it be the same for God? And if we can take such a narrow approach in understanding one another, to the degree that we will ignore aspects of eachother for the sake of simplicity - why wouldn't it be the same for God? Just as God created every individual with a body, soul, and spirit - so He exists body, soul, and Spirit. (1st John 5:7)
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