Saturday, February 13, 2010

The truth will set you free

I finally went to see the movie Avatar yesterday. It was a very good movie, much better than I expected from the previews. I may write about the actual movie later. Today I want to talk about the $2.50 surcharge for the movie because it was in 3-D. What is that about? When I first got the special glasses I thought it was because the quality of the glasses was so much better than they were in previous generations. There were a hard plastic. They didn't rip like the old ones. I could see why there might be an extra expense but what if you saw the movie more than once. could you get the $2.50 waived if you showed your glasses?

I was thinking about this when I approached the theater and saw the bin calling for you to return your glasses after the movie. I couldn't believe it. I had made up a rationale for the additional cost and that bin sent my reasoning right out the window. Why the extra cost if you were supposed to give the glasses back? It just didn't make sense.

I know I shouldn't say this, but I kept my glasses after the movie just so I could get my $2.50 worth. Even though they may not let me use them or give me a discount the next time I see a 3-D movie in the theater., I will now have a pair to wear at home when I rent the movie on DVD. Am I a bad person? Well that is also the subject of another day.

What I really want to talk about is the way our brain makes sense of the world. Have you ever noticed that when there is a question in your life, it needs to be answered? We are always quick to come up with some explanation. Most of us even make something up if we need to. I'll give you an example. When I was in seminary my professor told us of a former student who came to him with a question.

The new pastor had gone to his first church and had a disagreement with his Board of Deacons. They wanted him to sit behind the table and serve them as they served the congregation. The student said that he couldn't do that. It was sacrilegious. He told them that the only one who should sit behind the table was Jesus. He preferred serving them from the front of the table. That was his role as a follower of Christ.

The Deacons insisted that they had been serving communion this way for as long as they could remember and no former pastor had ever objected. So the pastor went back to his professor to get his opinion. (He really went to him to exonerate himself by getting the theological position he could bring back and support his position with. )

The professor listened to him and asked him how he arrived at this idea. The pastor then told him that he learned it at seminary. They always put Jesus in the seat of honor behind the table in the college chapel. The professor asked him who told him that. As the pastor thought about it, he said that he couldn't remember but someone must have told him that.

The professor laughed and then proceeded to tell the young pastor that the reason no one sat behind the communion table in the chapel was because the table was bolted to the wall. There was nothing theological about it at all.

That pastor simply saw a situation and made up a theological rationale for it. As I said before, we do it all the time. We take what we know and apply it to a situation. Our brain fills in the gaps. Most of the time it is harmless. But when it comes to life and death situations, we better know if what we are dealing with is the truth or a mental construct.

That's why it is so important for us as Christians to read and know our Bible. It is our foundation. We need to know what Jesus said. We need to know what was important to him. We need to understand the history of Israel and where Jesus fits into that story. We need to understand sin and what it really is. We need to know why Jesus came and what he died for. We need to know the truth because it will set us free. Jesus said that. I believe it.


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