Many years ago, my friend's mother decided to take a part time job cleaning an office building at night. She wanted to work alone, so she began with one small, three-story building.
It didn't take her long to realize that cleaning a three floor office building was pretty time consuming, especially for someone just wanting a part time job. So, she decided to hire her son as a helper.
The first night on the job, she told my friend that his job would be to clean all of the bathrooms in the building. She trained him by taking him in the ladies room and showing him what chemicals to use, where they were to be used, how to clean a toilet (because he never did this at home), and how to mop the floors. She provided him a checklist of every task necessary to clean the bathroom.
During the first week, she noticed that it was taking him longer than expected to clean the bathrooms. She wasn't worried because, being a "newbie", he probably needed to do the job intentionally, and that takes time. However, after several weeks, she found out that he wasn't getting much faster. She still wasn't worried because she was paying him by the job, not by the hour.
Before long, she started receiving notes from the employees of the office building...all of them female. They were thank you notes. Each one was a letter of gratitude for how incredibly clean the bathrooms were.
Now, knowing her son and the fact that he rarely cleaned his room and had never cleaned a bathroom before, this was somewhat surprising. So, one night, she waited until he began cleaning the ladies room and followed him in to see what he was doing that was so special. In doing so, she learned a great lesson.
She noticed that he cleaned the stalls first. He went into the stall, sprayed everything down with disinfectant, squirted the toilet cleaner in the bowl, swished it with the brush, wiped down the seat...and then she caught him doing something unusual. After wiping the seat, he turned around and locked the door of the stall. She could tell by the position of his feet that he was now sitting on the toilet. He sat there for about five minutes, then the door unlocked, and he emerged.
As you may suspect, she was dying to know why he turned around and sat on the seat. His answer was inspiring..."when the ladies use this room, they sit on the seat. I figure if I sit on the seat, I can see the stall the same way they do. And if I see the stall the way they do, I'll know what they think is important as far as the stall being clean."
...In our culture, we have come to the conclusion that "perception is reality." The church is called by God to create the proper perception of Him, His Son, and His Spirit. The problem we face is that many (if not most) of the people in our culture have a negative, or at least a skewed, perception of Christ and Christianity.
You see, the only way we can attack wrong perceptions is by attempting to understand and view things from the perspective that created these perceptions. Once we see from this perspective, we usually understand that there are LITTLE things that we are missing when attempting to enable our friends to "experience" the same God we do. And if we don't do something about those LITTLE things that interfere with the overall vision, the job of connecting people with God and God's family through an experience that creates an encounter with God will be nearly impossible.
You see, the toilets were actually no cleaner than they were before my friend started working there. But because extra time was taken to look at the "experience" from another perspective, to do LITTLE things that improved the "experience," the perception of cleanliness became changed.
May all Christians be people who are courageous enough to see from the perspective of those who seek, but haven't found. May we pay attention to the little things that get in their way. And may always take the time, and never give up on helping them develop a new and clear perception of a wonderful God.