Last night, I spent some searching Netflix for a movie that I’d enjoyed as a child (one I hadn’t seen in nearly 30 years). When I found The Philadelphia Experiment, its description seemed to match my recollection. Naval experiment, time travel, etc. Thing is, the longer I watched, the more things felt “off” to me.
In a eureka! moment (one that took altogether too long to come to), I knew what it was that I was missing: Kirk Douglas. As in, this movie–the one I’m watching–has a marked lack of Kirk Douglas, thus it can’t be the one I watched before. But what was this elusive other called? I couldn’t for the life of me remember. So I hit IMDB to look up Kirk Douglas. Let me tell you–he’s been in a lot of movies!
As I scrolled through his filmography, I finally found what I was looking for: The Final Countdown. Chalk it up to my addled 41 year-old brain! I mean I guess I could see, after all these years, how I confused the two–as both pertain to time traveling sailors, but the devil (as they say) is in the details. The plot specifics were very different. One of these was definitely not like the other. Not that The Philadelphia Experiment is necessarily bad, mind you; it’s just not The Final Countdown. It differed drastically from my expectations, which in turn colored my perceptions.
It took me awhile, but I eventually let go of my expectations, and began to enjoy “Philadelphia Experiment” on its own merits.
This got me to thinking–as I am sometimes wont to do–how often do we something similar to people? How often do we expect a “Final Countdown,” and get a “Philadelphia Experiment?” And why is that we have such a hard time letting go of how we perceive people should be, and accept them as they are? How often do we really give folks a “second chance at a first impression?” (Hear me on this: I’m not saying that should we find a brother, or sister, tangled in destructive behaviors, that we should leave them there. That would not be love if we did so). What I mean is why do we oftentimes find it so hard to free people from our expectations, instead of allowing them to be who God created them to be? Why is it so intimidating when someone truly starts living out their freedom in Christ?
We lade with rules, burden with expectations, when instead we should be celebrating our Christian liberty together. It’s nuts. And as is the case with pretty much everything, it’s a heart issue. Whether it’s pride, jealousy, spite, false expectations–it has its root in sin, which stems from the fall. We are a fundamentally broken people, and fundamentally don’t understand grace–because grace offends our sense of equity, because grace is not fair. While not easy–in fact, never so–we have to take the time, make the time, to go beyond the surface. To know, and be known. This is scary stuff, but is so worthwhile. Because in doing so we are most like our Father:
“For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart” (1 Sam. 16:7b, ESV).
And that, friends and neighbors, brothers and sisters, is who need to be: a people who are willing to take the time to work past our expectations, our perceptions, and at least make the effort to share, bear/bare, and see to each other’s hearts.
Outward, or inner: one of these is not like the other.