When I walk into a car dealership, I anticipate getting taken advantage of. When my mechanic recommends work, a voice in the back of my mind wonders, “Are all of these repairs needed? Is the cost fair?” I delete chain emails because I doubt my not annoying sending to ten people will result in years of misery and misfortune. I ignore anyone trying to lure me in to a conversation with the promise of anything free, because I know that one “yes” is enough to leave me vulnerable to the rule of reciprocity. My answer is always “no.”
In our world, we are wary of unsolicited emails – we know one click can introduce a virus that will wreak havoc on our PC and drive us mad trying to fix the damage. We watch a magician saw a woman in half or turn a scarf into a dozen white doves and we know it’s an illusion. By our frame of reference (the rules we’ve learned about the world around us) we know these things couldn’t possibly happen. (Now if said magician could make our abundant supply of pigeons disappear, I could rethink my stance.)
I’m sure people of Jesus’ time also had a grasp of their world. They must have been stunned when they witnessed Jesus order demons from two men (Matthew 8:28-34), heal a paralyzed man (Matthew 9:1-8), bring a girl back to life (Matthew 9:23-26), or restore senses to a blind man and deaf man (Matthew 9:27-34.) Some witnesses praised God, but others found excuses or other explanations for the miracles. Their hearts wouldn’t allow them to believe in the power of God.
Two thousand years later, with the benefit of hindsight, I can read the accounts in the Bible and think how cool it would have been to be there; to be in the presence of Jesus. Yes, it would’ve been incredible, but I wonder if my skeptical mind might have prompted me to react with fear and doubt – convinced that someone was playing an elaborate trick on me. I have too much skepticism.
In our recent history, there have been religious sects that seem “crazy” to those not involved. (For example, David Koresh and the Branch Davidians, Heaven’s Gate, and the sect of RLDS led by Jeffrey Lundgren.) Perhaps those followers would have benefited from a little more skepticism.
I pray that God will guide me and keep my skepticism balanced, so that my heart is open to His truths, but not easily overcome by inaccuracies perpetuated by our society.
I want to believe the beggar in the corner isn’t a scam, but realize that wiring $1,000 to a stranger won’t earn me $10,000.
I want the perfect balance of skepticism. How’s your level of skepticism – do you need more or less, or are you just right?
Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. (Matthew 7:15-16)