Perception Is Everything

By Ed Hurst | Posted at 6:26 AM

In a recent commentary at ZDNet, software developer Jeremy Allison considered one of the most problematic issues with adoption of the Linux operating system: even in cash strapped parts of the world, people don’t want it. I'm not too deeply disturbed those poor souls in Africa don't want Linux. What strikes me so deeply has to do with perception.

Alison writes,
The outcome of this rampant illegal software copying is that Windows is seen as “the first world standard” and any attempt to push a cheaper alternative is strongly resisted. They consider it trying to cheat local people out of getting the same quality of software that is used in the developed world, even though it’s a legal way of getting quality software for free.

True story: In a family of some half-dozen children, the cookie jar is produced and everyone runs to get theirs. One each. Naturally, the smallest child at age 5 is last, and the last cookie is broken in three pieces. Same cookie, same size, but broken. He throws it on the floor and walks away complaining he never gets anything worth having. How often does it have to happen for him to believe that? Studies indicate less than 30% is still enough to cause him to perceive things that way.

Raise that up to the level of junior high school, and it only takes a 40% incidence for them to say a particular teacher “always says that” when they hear a given phrase. Raise that up to church members of any typical evangelical church, and they insist God deserves the best, so their building has to be expensive enough the church has to borrow to the hilt.

Let me assure you, God doesn't care about the building. He lives in human hearts, not man-made facilities. We grant far, far too little concern to the Temple of the Holy Spirit. We cover it in expensive fabrics, and we might even be relatively healthy, and so even manage to keep ourselves morally clean in a legalistic sense. We may even feel a certain sense of warmth toward our fellow man. But God is still not Lord of our lives on those accounts. That fancy building, those expensive suits, and all that other stuff is about loving the self. We just all happen to share that self love in the same way, so it looks like loving fellowship.

The presence of the Holy Spirit calls for sacrifice. A less fancy, but still functional building so more money goes to missions. Rather ordinary clothing because the rest goes to the food closet, or the free clothing closet. No big post-service restaurant meals so they can afford to work less and spend time at home with the family. No big screen TV because they need the time for studying the Word.

You get the idea. When will we allow the Lord to capture our perceptions, instead of yielding them to a bunch of hucksters?

Ed Hurst is Associate Editor of Open for Business.

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