Recently while eating eggs in a diner, I wrote my friend a three-page list of the reasons she should not go back to her husband. He broke my collarbone when he was angry. He taped a list of my physical flaws to the bathroom mirror. He beat up his niece. We had to write the list because she “still loves him.” I put it on her refrigerator and told her to re-read it.
She needed the list because she couldn’t hold the truth about him in her mind. Her fantasy was such a strong competitor. If her mind were the stage for a strongman competition, illusion beat out the truth every time. She has the broken bones to prove it.
Her self-deceit may seem extreme. You’d never stay with an abuser, right?
Yet in the strongman battlefield of our minds, we have our own muscled enemies. When it comes to politics and religion, many people are so whipped they don’t even try to find truth; they don’t even give truth a chance to defeat a lie. Apathy is a beefy giant; false beliefs stomp around like Goliath sextuplets on steroids. Our economy is on the edge partly because we Americans are so good at telling ourselves what we want to hear about money. Most of us believe in Christian morals but our power to rationalize those beliefs away—to tell ourselves convenient fiction—shows in our sick national statistics of adultery, premarital sex, addictions to pornography and other sin. The evangelicals whose Bibles explain our current political crisis are least willing to address a Jewish agenda against Christ and freedom. Most people on the far left and right who accept that truth simultaneously reject the greater, Biblical reality that explains it.
Why! Why is it so hard for humans to know the whole truth and hang onto it once we do? I’m talking important truths: the existence of God and the other world; life’s purpose (it’s not just to be happy); and the realities of political and moral forces shaping our world. Why is it so hard for people to recognize the basic existence of God or the divinity of Christ—or to even consider objectively the idea that the Bible isn’t lying about a Jewish Pharisaic conspiracy and a moral battle leading up to the end of the human age? There are some truths we can barely think about, let alone hold to.
There’s at least one good and simple reason that truth evades us. Every courtroom knows it. It’s why jurors are examined for impartiality…This is the reason: It’s almost impossible to find truth if your will is committed to the version you want. Like jurors in a courtroom, our desires for reality to be a certain way—our fear of one answer, our need for another—blind us to reality. Subconsciously, we are driven to insist on the answers we want. We rarely recognize when we do this. Christ described the kingdom of heaven as a precious pearl for which we must be willing to sell everything most precious to us: our self-interest, our dreams, our values, even our own lives. Without radical self-denial, our love of self will continually, invisibly influence our pursuit of truth. He said to know spiritual truth we must become like small children; we can’t approach God—the ultimate Reality—wanting Him to be a certain way.
In the most important questions, we all have an emotional stake. Deep down, we all do care—a lot—what the truth turns out to be. We care whether there’s a God. In The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism, Timothy Keller talks about a prominent atheist who admitted his fear of religion. Keller comments, “Depending on our experiences with religion, on our other beliefs and commitments, and on how we are living our lives—we all are deeply interested in seeing the case for God go one way or the other.” (p119) In his excellent book, Keller himself argues that every person knows God exists. But many repress that knowledge. It is a rare atheist who admits his emotional desire for God to not exist. Inside, we all care one way or another. We also care whetherr there are ugly political truths, because talking about them could ruin our lives.
The rejection and repression of truth may be so subtle, their motivations so subconscious, that we can’t even see that we’re doing it. We don’t know exactly why a certain concept or premise is so unacceptable, but it is. Sometimes we shove ideas away before we can consider them. We reject possible truths for no good reason at all.
The more important and life-impacting a truth might be, the more emotionally biased we are. This is definitely true about the question of a Jewish agenda. Maybe you hate every e-alert in which Ted Pike and I bring this up. Maybe you accept this reality just fine, but your friends and church family won’t let you speak a word about it. This reality is so emotionally charged; the price for speaking up is almost higher than the price for speaking against homosexuality at a gay pride parade or abortion at a NOW meeting. Those who should be bravest and most concerned—evangelicals, respecting the Bible and at greatest risk from Jewish activism—are most unlikely to trespass into this dangerous and taboo truth.
Self-preservation is a deep, primal, subconscious drive. It’s like the eyeballs we look through. We don’t see them, but they affect how we see everything else. We might never consciously say, “Oh, I can’t think about that (Jesus being real, or a Jewish agenda, or hell) because if it were true, it would ruin my life.” We might not consciously state that to ourselves. Yet the drive to preserve our lives and our perceived happiness is so strong; it subconsciously influences our thoughts on the most important questions. It shuts down our access to the whole truth.
So I offer this challenge.
If you really want the truth—about God, Christ, what’s tearing our nation apart—you have to do one thing. You have to give up your life. You have to be ready to accept for the answer you don’t want to hear and for the worst fallout. I’m not saying you will suffer it. I’m not saying you will have to do prison time or lose your job, or your friends’ respect. But you have to be willing to lose those things. You have to become impartial.
The apostle Paul said it is repentance—forsaking one’s personal will and submitting to the will of God—that leads to knowledge of the truth. He ought to know. Few people suffered more for truth. Paul said people who love their own lives can’t know truth. Because they are “lovers of themselves,” such people are “always learning but never able to come to knowledge of the truth.”
Is it possible to become impartial toward truth? For most of us—not really. That’s why we need God.
If you read our e-alerts and get mad—or share them with your friends and they get mad—either because of the Christian stuff or the “anti-Jewish” stuff…then this is how you can win the challenge. Get on your knees. Bow your head. And say, “If this is true, God, if You exist and if this is true—I’ll do whatever it takes, whatever You empower me to do. I’m dying to my life. Show me the truth.” I pray that prayer, daily. Writing on this topic—for which I could potentially go to jail as a “hate criminal”—was the last thing I wanted to do with my life. (Well, one of them. Cleaning urinals is pretty high on the list.) I just turned 26. At this age, I wanted to be married, writing lovely books of poetic prose and being happy.
But, ultimately, the cost of falsehood and fantasy is far higher—for us all—than the cost of finding the whole truth. My friend in the diner had found that out. Her eyes were puffy from endless tears; her broken bones still struggled to mend. Her mind was so corroded by falsehood she was crying over a man who belonged behind bars. The price of illusion is high. Ultimately, you’ll pay with your soul. If you cling to a lie—that God doesn’t exist, for instance—you’ll find out you’re wrong too late. Now is the time to surrender our lives, to face the most uncomfortable questions with unflinching willingness for the whole truth.
The courtroom is already in session. We can’t excuse ourselves from the case. The time to get on your knees and ask God to open your mind—it’s now.
Rev. Ted Pike is director of the National Prayer Network, a Christian/conservative watchdog organization.
Harmony Grant writes and edits for National Prayer Network, a Christian/conservative watchdog group.
Let the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith teach you how they have saddled 45 states with hate laws capable of persecuting Christians: http://www.adl.org/99hatecrime/intro.asp.
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