Revealing Assumptions – David Hampton
For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Hebrews 4:12 NIV
There is a strange climate afoot these days: assumptions are running rampant. It seems to be a season where it is okay to label, to only half listen, and to cast a wide net of opinion that goes well beyond the issues and instead demeans the character of those with whom we disagree. Worst of all, we feel the freedom to assume things about others based on the little we actually know about them personally.
Assumptions are like a false start in a hundred yard dash. It’s too late once you hear the gun and realize you are ahead of the facts!
To assume is to filter everything we think we know about a person, situation, or event through our own arrogant grid of experience. When we assume, we are often imposing ourselves on those around us via our own unresolved issues or insecurities. Worst of all, we are rarely assuming the best of someone or some group. Most often we imagine the most sinister scenarios of those who come from outside our camps.
To have a real conversation and realize we may ultimately disagree with someone’s position on an issue is one thing. To tag someone or a group of people with a certain label or disparaging rhetoric simply because they come from outside our own circle is something else entirely.
I had dinner with a friend one evening not long ago. She lives in New York. She is from what some might call a “liberal” denomination. She is a believer who happens to vote as a Democrat. As we talked, she recounted how every time she comes to the Bible Belt, she is bombarded by assumptions based on her political perspectives or the church she attends. She said that because she is a believer, people assume she’s a Republican. Or, conversely, they find out she’s a Democrat and this calls all of her spiritual and doctrinal perspectives into question.
We are living in an age where believers are becoming a more and more diverse lot. Everyone in the room may not be coming from the same place politically, denominationally, or doctrinally, simply because we share the same Savior.
We need the pushing and pulling and tugging on our opinions and ideas to make us think. It is okay to disagree. It is even okay to passionately disagree. However, I don’t believe that it is ever okay to assume that just because we think alike in one area we will all think alike in every area. Such assumptions shut down conversation and shut out those who might like to express another point of view.
Reflection: Are there any areas or issues about which you think differently than you did ten years ago? Can you recall a time when you launched assumptions on someone’s character simply because they viewed some issue or position differently?
Dave Hampton is the author of Our Authentic Selves: Reflections on What We Believe & What We Wish We Believed. For most of his life, David Hampton could tell you what he believed about anything, anytime, at the drop of a hat. He prided himself in how well he could parrot what he’d been taught about the Christian doctrine. At some point, he decided to trust the experts with matters regarding his spiritual formation and he learned to spout their words as his own. In so doing, he flipped off the switch in his heart.
Read David’s devotions.