The Age of Reason gave birth to the sceptic in a way never before experienced by humanity. All of a sudden, everything we read and believed was to be grounded in evidence and reason. If it didn’t make sense then it didn’t exist. In a lot of ways, this was really great. We could call in to question once held to beliefs, challenge them, and we could see if they held ground. This paved the way to a lot of what we have today technologically and even what we’ve rediscovered historically. Unfortunately, scepticism has become the default position of our generation, it has become one of the greats gods of our era. Recently, a good friend of mine asked me “Why do you reckon we find it easier to be negative and sceptical than positive?”
Love is the quintessential epicentre of Christ and ergo, the Christian faith. We are seriously terrible at loving people because we’ve learnt to hate our entire lives. What I mean is this. Consider one of the great meta-narratives making its way throughout our time. “You’re special. You’re smart. Whatever you put your mind to, you can achieve. You’re important.” This narrative perpetuates the notion that the individual is the most important thing in existence. We’re taught to love ourselves, to think highly of ourselves, and to believe we can do anything if we just try… and even then we’re still utterly amazing if we don’t. However, in the never-ending quest of self-love, we actually end up seeing others as less important, less special, less intelligent, less capable, and less wise. One can see how steeped in pride this is, easily leading to hating your brother and thinking him a fool.
Let me be clear if you’re reading this: in and of yourself, you are extremely mundane. This is hard for us to come to terms with because every movie we watch, or book we read, the world is telling us that we’re destined for greatness, that we’re the chosen one who’s going to bring balance to the Force, that we can destroy the Matrix, throw the ring into Mt. Doom, and save the princess. Reality sucks. People go their entire lives and die without ever finding love, purpose or meaning. It’s tragic but nonetheless real.
Second, is change and challenge. We automatically disagree with new or different positions because change is an incredibly hard thing to have us do. Why? Because realising that you have to change and grow is admitting to yourself and to the world around you that you’re not as perfect as you thought. It’s an immensely humbling and often painful process which is why it might take years for someone to even shift their perspective on a certain issue let alone change the way they live.
Third, positive reinforcement, and having an open disposition to others’ opinions rather than being immediately dismissive means believing that another might have more wisdom than you. This is a big struggle for a lot of us because we’ve lived our lives acting (never admitting) that we’re always right about anything and everything we hold to. All of a sudden, someone else might know better than you and that’s a huge kick in the backside – extremely deflating to one’s ego (especially mine).
Finally, let me say this. I think God holds Christians to a high standard. The Scriptures tell us that Christ has become the wisdom of God, and we’re in Him (1 Cor 1:26-30), and if the Fall was about us living by our own wisdom and not God’s (Gen 3), then we’re called to not be wise in our own sight (Rom 12:14-21), to uphold one another in honour (Rom 12:10), and to even consider others better then ourselves (Philip 2:3). Now we’re getting somewhere, no we’re displaying the love of God. So, instead of coming into a conversation or situation with an attitude of disbelief or with scepticism, we should be asking “what can God teach me through this person. Especially, if all things are worked out for my good (Rom 8:28), even this conversation?”