Tuesday, August 14, 2018

The Green Goblins of Willful Ignorance

In the Tobey Maguire Spiderman trilogy, Spiderman's best friend, Harry, was also the son of the first Spiderman villain, the Green Goblin. When the Goblin managed to kill himself in an attempt to get rid of Spiderman, Harry blamed Spiderman for the death. Even when Spidey shared the truth with his friend, Harry refused to let it affect his view of things. Not until Mary Jane, a girl both men loved, found herself in danger did Harry decide to accept the truth and fight at Spiderman's side to save Mary Jane.  One of the tragedies of the trilogy is the time that was wasted and the friendship that was ruined because one of its central characters refused to allow the truth to affect him.

In Acts chapter four we find another instance of this self-destructive human behavior. Jesus has already risen from the dead and ascended into heaven, and the disciples have begun teaching, preaching and healing in his name. As they are going into the temple one day, Peter and John heal a lame man and the entire city is thrown into a tumult. The high priests have Peter and John arrested and brought before them, in part because they are known as associates of Jesus, whom they condemned to execution. While deliberating how to handle Peter and John for healing a man in the name of the risen Jesus, they make an extraordinary statement. "What should we do with these men? We can't deny that they have performed a miraculous sign, and everybody in Jerusalem knows about it. But to keep them from spreading their propaganda any further, we must warn them not to speak to anyone in the name of Jesus." (Acts 4:16, NLT).

The council acknowledges that a miracle has been done. In the verses preceding, they do not contradict Peter and John when they claim Jesus has risen from the dead. But the council doesn't allow the truth of the events to affect their view of things. Previously, they believed that no one could do miracles unless God was with that person, but when Jesus and his disciples came along, preaching something they didn't like, they chose to change their definition of the miraculous rather than admit they were wrong about Jesus.

We are often guilty of this same behavior. When the facts don't fit our own view of the world, we choose to ignore or reinterpret the facts in order to preserve our own opinions. Nowhere is this more evident than in the political realm. Whether Democrat or Republican, conservative or progressive, moderate or independent, it is often very easy to ignore or disbelieve the facts that don't promote our own worldview. And we don't confine our hypocrisy to politics. We play the same game when we stake our reputation on a misinformed opinion and choose to double-down rather than admit our error. We make wild accusations based on feelings or rumors and then refuse to apologize when presented with the truth. We cling to a poorly formed doctrine and claim the Bible passage which contradicts our opinion must not really mean what it says.  But as followers of the One who called himself the Way, the Truth and the Life, we must care more for abiding in the truth than for the being seen as right.

When the facts don't fit with your opinion, change your opinion. We can't afford to trade the truth for a lie just to save our pride.

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