Friday, March 7, 2014

Third Day of Lent: Afraid to Ask

This is the third devotional thought based upon a Lenten reading plan created to compliment the Lenten sermon series at Southland Baptist Church in San Angelo. You can follow that reading plan here.

Today’s reading: Mark 9:30-37

Key Verse: They did not understand what he meant and were afraid to ask him about it - Mark 9:32.

Today's passage is the second occasion in Mark's gospel in which Jesus predicts his death. He apparently recognizes that his disciples do not understand what he's been telling them so he repeats the lesson. They still don't understand, but they are too afraid to ask Jesus about this difficult teaching. What do you think they are afraid of learning?

Being afraid to ask good questions if one of the characteristics of a fearful humanity. It's a coping mechanism we use to ignore the true state of affairs in our lives and in our worlds. While most of us claim to want the truth, few of us actually seek it.

A few years ago I read a wonderful book entitled Caring for Words in a Culture of Lies by Marilyn Chandler McEntyre. In the book, McEntyre quotes the philosopher, Pascal, “We hate the truth, and people hide it from us; we want to be flattered, and people flatter us; we like being deceived and we are deceived” and then adds her own commentary, “The deceptions we particularly seem to want are those that comfort, insulate, legitimate, and provide ready excuses for inaction.”

We know things are not well with our marriage or our family, but we let our spouses or children convince us otherwise. We know that what the politician says probably isn’t true, but we vote for him nevertheless. We know that our own promises to do better or drink less or save more are completely empty, but we voice them anyway. We do so, because deceptions bring us a temporary peace. Voicing and believing lies proves easier than hearing the truth that shall set us free.

Our culture is so full of such lies (and we tell so many), it’s difficult for us to even begin to commit ourselves to telling and hearing the truth, even if it’s God who speaks such truth. And yet, salvation won’t be found in those who declare “Peace, peace” where there is no peace (Jeremiah 8:11). If we are to be saved we must first hear the truth about our lives and about our world.

How do we open ourselves up to hearing God's word for our lives? McEntyre provides some penetrating questions that might just bring us closer to the truth, “What today am I avoiding knowing? Why? What point of view am I protecting? Why?”

In other words, what questions are you afraid to raise? That alone might tip you off to what you fear the most. If you really want the truth, those are the questions you'll have to courageously ask.

David put it slightly different but equally effective, “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24).

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