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Inspiration for Today’s Devotional: “MMMystery on the Friendship Express”
In her urge to find the culprit who took bites out of the “MMMM”, Pinkie Pie ends up making, in the words of Twilight, some “wild accusations” in this episode, with emphasis on the wild part. Most of them are ridiculous nonsense that wasn’t even remotely plausible let alone possible. Yet Pinkie, in her own way, seemed to take them seriously enough when she made them…at least until the ridiculousness of her premises were set out.
If only life worked that easily for wild prejudgments of our own.
Perhaps you have heard of the logical fallacy known as the “True Scotsman” argument. Say two people are in a bar having a discussion over someone who is guilty of fraud and embezzlement on the news. One of them makes the argument: “All persons like _____ are dishonest. Scotsmen, on the other hand, are always honest. You can always trust them. They’d never be so underhanded.” The other then explains to this individual that the man on the news is, in fact, from Scotland. The response from the first is: “Well…then he wasn’t a real Scotsman. A real Scotsman is always honest.”
It’s a demonstration of one of the most basic of human principles that’s also displayed, apparently, by ponies. People don’t see the world the way it is. They see it the way they are. Statistics, figures, facts, demographics…none of these things matter when someone has already made a decision to think one way or another. A good example is the recent string of shooting deaths by police that’s been in the media. In most of these cases, the media makes a special point of calling attention to the race of the shooter and the victim. And as a result, you have some people who automatically think the shooter was guilty because of his color, and others who think the victim “had it coming” because of his color. At this point, the evidence that comes out in the investigation or the trial doesn’t really matter. No matter how incriminating or absolving, people will ignore that in favor of their pre-made conclusion.
Another great example is when interviewers go out on the street and ask people who they are voting for. There was this one comedic bit done on a late night show in which the interviewer first asked people who they were voting for, asked if they were opposed to the entire platform of the opposing candidate, and then presented an idea on a platform by the candidate they were voting for and asked if they were in favor of it. Here’s the kicker…the idea was always actually on the opposing candidate’s platform, but people were automatically in favor of it simply because they thought their own candidate was pushing it. In other words, the facts didn’t matter. It came down to which candidate they preferred, at which point their platform was irrelevant compared to their voting decision. They wished to see the world one way, and every fact would simply be mentally adjusted to support that.
Christians need to keep this mind when attempting to spread the Good News.
For one thing, it’s because of this that I feel straight verbal witnessing is of limited use. It would only be useful if the individual in question was already predisposed toward Christianity or needed “one push to go over the edge”. But if someone is more opposed to Christianity or knowledge of God or Jesus, or has made up their mind that none of that exists, then no matter how factual or sensible you try to be or what examples or anecdotes you use, there’s a good chance they’ll remain opposed.
Jesus Himself not only spoke the Truth but also performed miracles for everyone to see, including His opponents, but no matter what He did they only ever saw it as reason to hate Him. In Mark 3: 1-6, there is the famous account of how the religious authorities of Jesus’ day watched and waited for Him to heal on the Sabbath so they could accuse Him of being wicked and even deserving of death for “working” on the Sabbath. Nevermind the fact that He performed a miracle or healed someone, or that the sign itself should have been a symbol of higher power at work…no, the fact that He did something on the Sabbath was all that mattered and testified to how “bad” He was.
A little later, in Mark 8, these same religious leaders now went up to Jesus and asked Him for a sign from Heaven of His authority. As Mark 8: 12 relates: “And he sighed deeply in his spirit and said, ‘Why does this generation seek a sign? Truly, I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation.'” I can only imagine how weary the question made Jesus. He had been performing all of His works publicly, including His miracles, and the religious leaders had even seen Him carry some of them out with their own eyes. Yet they refused to see Jesus as the Messiah, and so none of those things mattered. Even after all He had done, they still asked for a sign. I figure the reason He sighed was because He was overwhelmed at how stubborn and “hard of heart” they had made themselves, and knew there was no sign He could present to them that they wouldn’t try to explain away.
Now, I’m not saying this to discourage anyone from witnessing. I’m doing it to point out that if even Jesus couldn’t immediately break through to some individuals due to their minds already set in one conclusion that we should expect the same when we just verbally witness. In these cases, the best thing one can do is get someone to listen to your testimony. Because so long as they’re willing to hear it, that means it will at least be in their minds. And if it’s there, it will be there for them to think on later. We shouldn’t give up on people, but we should be cognizant of what they are thinking and feeling and respond accordingly in the most effective way, or pray to God to seize on the right moment when it comes.
I’m also using the opportunity to point out how Bible verses, quotes, and spoken sermons won’t always cut it for bringing people to Christ. To this day, the best group of Christians I ever met were ones on my college campus. In terms of their services, they weren’t anything you wouldn’t see at any good non-denominational church service. The praise and worship were the same and the messages and prayer were good, but not blowing away any other group. Yet what set them apart was the people. How they would come and visit me when I was down or depressed just to hang out. How they’d invite me along to events. How they used the contributions to rent a house for the members of the church to hang out in; maybe to play games, do homework, pray, or just lounge around. And especially how in my worst times, when I yelled at them and cursed them out in my anger at my own situation, they always forgave me and didn’t give up on me. People who felt the freedom to share their “warts” with each other because they knew no one there would judge them. Before I met this group, all the talk about Christian communities and living I heard in the Bible was just lip service and some idealist utopia. When I saw it here, I began to believe in it and I believed in how Christianity was a way of life and not just a weekly service and daily prayers.
Last but not least, if you have been struggling with accepting Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior or going to Christianity, or maybe something else such as forgiving someone or trying to decide if God is calling you to one thing or another, take a moment to ask yourself if what’s holding you back is something genuine or if you’re “looking” for reasons to say no. Again, we see the world as we are, not how it is. Therefore, the more honest we are with ourselves, the more clearly we will see the world as it is.
Suggested Prayer: “Lord God, thank you for revealing yourself to the world in Creation, in the power of the Body of Christ, in your Son, Lord Jesus Christ, and in your Word. Help me to always seek the truth in everything by ‘removing the beam from my own eye’ and being more honest with myself, and please reveal to me every time in which my own bias and prejudgment prevents me from seeing things as they are. And if I have been ‘running and hiding’ from you or anyone else or any problem as a result of my own distorted world lenses, please forgive me for this and confront me with what I need to do to change. Gratefully in Jesus’ Name, Amen.”