We Are All Biased – We All See Through Different Stained Glasses (perspective)
I Love Stained Glass
The church I attend is not one of those “stained glass window” kind of places. Most folks would consider our building pretty boring – think big beige box with regular clear windows, pews, and carpet. We do our best to try to refrain from placing too much emphasis on “the building” where we worship and focus more on who we are worshipping. We also try to spend as much of the money that is contributed on “evangelistic efforts.” It sounds quite noble. I personally wish we spent a little more money on the building, because I have been in churches that had stained glass windows and I definitely felt a little more worshipful while in attendance, but that’s another topic. My parents had a friend we knew in Michigan when I was pretty young that started making her own stained glass windows – I don’t know why I remember that fact or why anyone else would care, but I thought I would throw that one in for free.
The older I get though, the more appreciation I really have for stained glass. I really do love to see it in old church buildings or in custom homes. It’s not just beautiful to behold, it’s also quite interesting to look through. When you look through a stained glass window, it really changes your perspective on what is outside that window.
You’ve probably heard songs about or just general references to rose-tinted glasses, as well. A quick look at the definition of “rose-tinted” on the internet will show you that it means… an optimistic perception of something; a positive opinion; seeing something in a positive way, often thinking of it as better than it actually is. An example of this, and why it works in love songs is that when someone is in love, they look at their partner through rose-tinted glasses. You don’t see the flaws in a person when you are in love, because your perception is “skewed” by those rose-tinted glasses.
In fact, at work, every time something breaks, my boss always asks us to put on our “accountability glasses,” whatever that means. 🙂 He wants us to look at every incident or issue that our team is involved in with a view of how we own it, how we could improve it.
Stained glass, rose-tinted glasses, accountability glasses – all are different mechanisms through which we look at something. They shape our views or perspectives of whatever it is we are viewing or interpreting.
What Does Your Stained Glass Look Like?
The way we view life is very similar to looking through a stained glass window. Each one of us has some sort of “stained glass” that we look through. We all have some sort of bias or differing perspective, because of our upbringing at home, because of our current situation (relationship, job, etc.), because of things we have been taught in school or church, because of where we were born, because of the influence of friends, so on and so on. Even if we try our best to deny it or push it out of our lives – there are stains on our windows that we can’t get out – positive or negative and they impact our view, our bias, or our perspective.
According to Google’s definition, bias is… cause to feel or show inclination or prejudice for or against someone or something. We have all been shaped by experiences in our lives or things we have been taught, differing ways to interpret events or teachings in light of that stained glass that we look through.
Stained Glass Bible Interpretation
This impacts every area of our life, but let’s think of it specifically in light of our interpretation of the Bible. Take the following passage from Hebrews 12:3-11 as an example and look at it through two different stained glasses…
3 Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. 4 In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5 And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?
“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
nor be weary when reproved by him.
6 For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and chastises every son whom he receives.”
7 It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8 If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. 9 Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. 11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
If you look at this passage through the stained glass of someone that grew up in a very loving and nurturing home with a father who was everything he was supposed to be – your stained glass view is more of a God that is a loving Father that wants to welcome us into His presence and wants nothing but the best for us even in times when we are being “disciplined.” With that stained glass view, this is a very comforting set of verses, especially for those that might have been facing some persecution in their lives.
But, what if the stained glass with which you are looking at this passage though is influenced by an earthly father that you had, who abused you or abandoned you and your mother at a young age… how do you interpret this passage differently? With that stained glass in view, it’s much harder to accept the thoughts put forth in these verses in a positive manner.
Windex Won’t Work on Stained Glass
Stained glass can be a very beautiful thing to look through. Some of our stained glass we’ll never be able to get rid of fully. Some of those stains won’t wipe away – they will always be with us, like it or not, good or bad. We may figure out how to look past the stained glass, but it will always be there. What we need to do is figure out how to work with the stained glass that we have, with all its imperfections, cracks, and beauty.
We need to also be mindful of the stained glass that others might be looking through. What might look “rosie” to us, may not be quite as pretty to behold depending on which window you are looking through.
My hope is that your stained glass is a beautiful one – I would love to hear what your stained glass window looks like in the comments section below.