why things are not always as they appear

The first time I appeared on TV, I looked like a nut. I do not mean I looked physically crazy, I mean I looked like I was condemning everyone to Hell. It was during the release of the movie The Last Temptation of Christ. Local Christians were picketing outside of a theater and I decided to drive down to the theater and see if I could strike up a conversation. I wasn’t there to picket. I just thought it might be a chance to dialogue with people about matters of faith.

I got in a lengthy conversation with two young ladies, about my age. In the middle of our conversation, a cameraman from a local television station began filming us as we talked. He filmed about five minutes of our conversation and then moved on. At one point in the conversation I mentioned Hell.

Guess what made it on the news.

Hell.

And the way they edited it, the conversation looked like I was condemning the world. I wasn’t. We actually had a great conversation. The young ladies thanked me for the conversation and went on their way.

The reason I tell this story is because context is everything. If the viewers had watched what I had said before and after that one sentence they would have seen a much different picture. Instead, I had letters to the editor written about me.

Fast forward to the other day when some Mormon Missionaries knocked on my door.

“Have you read the book of Mormon?”

“Yes I have,” I said.

“Did you pray?”

“Yes, I did.”

“Did you find it to be true?”

“No, I did not,” I said.

“Why?”

This last question opened the door for a conversation about the differences of Christianity and Mormonism.

During the discussion, one of the missionaries took a single verse and interpreted it out of the context of the chapter. I asked him for his Bible so that I could read what came after the verse. Once I read what came after and explained the context of the passage, he quickly abandoned that passage and tried to support his beliefs with other verses.

My point is this – Things are not always as they seem. Photos do not tell the whole story. Video clips do not tell the whole story. Single verses of the Bible do not tell the whole story. The context of before and after is vital to understand the way things really are. If we spend our lives staring at puzzle pieces, we will never see the whole picture.

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