Thursday, January 29, 2009

Dead Men Bleed After All

A woman became very concerned about her husband’s mental health. Her husband was convinced that he was dead. Unable to convince him otherwise, she took him to a psychologist. The psychologist agreed to treat him and set to work. But he also, no matter what approach he tried, was unable to convince the man that he really wasn’t dead. Finally, in exasperation, he hit upon a plan. He began to take the man around to fatal accident scenes, to morgues, to funeral homes, etc. in order to prove to the man that dead people don’t bleed. This process continued for several months, until finally, one day, the man agreed that dead people don’t bleed. Whereupon the psychologist took out a pin and pricked the man’s finger. A spot of blood welled up at the site of the pin prick. The man looked at it with an anguished look on his face. Turning to the psychologist he said, his voice quivering: “Doc, we were wrong! Dead people bleed after all!”

As humorous as this story is, it has a point. How easy is it for us to take the position of “my mind’s made up, don’t confuse me with the facts?” When we do this we can often miss out on what God has to offer us. We can miss out on new opportunities. We become inflexible and rigid, unable to change. How much we lose when this situation occurs!

In Jesus’ time the Pharisees exhibited this phenomenon. They refused to believe that Jesus had come from God. They didn’t allow his signs and miracles to change their position. Their minds were made up. No matter how strong the evidence was to the contrary, they would continue to refuse to believe differently. We can laugh at them, but are we much better today? Friends of ours met with the school principal when they were enrolling their daughter in kindergarten. Not knowing that they lived in the housing community across from the school, he referred to the community as a low income area with little interest in education. The ironic fact was that most of the families living there were undergraduate and graduate students who, if they could afford it, put their children in private or parochial schools. His mind was made up, and he didn’t care about the facts. We found the same attitude when we moved from Ann Arbor to Ypsilanti. Some people wondered why we would want to move there. Yet we found ourselves in a vibrant community. We also see this feature in the polarity between black and white communities across our nation. Many times neither group wants to have anything to do with each other. Both communities have their minds so made up that they are afraid to even look at contrary facts. The loss due to their inability to work together is enormous.

I wonder how often we do the same things with God. How many times do we place God in a box and tell him that he can only do the things the box allows? How often do we place God in a straightjacket, curtailing his movement? If he breaks out of the box, do we find some alternate explanation rather than say that it is God? When we do this, our faith becomes rigid and inflexible. We are in the sad state of being unable to change. We become the modern day Pharisees. I think its time to ask: “Where do I find my mind so made up that I am willing to ignore contrary facts and refuse to change?”

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