They are not afraid of evil tidings; their hearts are firm, secure in the Lord. (Psa. 112:7)
We live in a complex and conflicted world. The only way to make sense of it all and keep our sanity is to put our beliefs in a box we can understand which makes sense of our world. Trying to change someone else’s mind is incredibly difficult, because it feels like it upends our entire worldview. So, what makes us think that one conversation, or one political commercial, or one Bible quote, will fundamentally change someone’s mind.
This is hard for a pastor to accept. We get up each week and preach a Gospel message that we throw ourselves into. We intellectually, spiritually, and emotionally give ourselves over to others in an attempt to offer God to those listening. Actually changing someone’s mind with my sermon is difficult and can be disheartening.
Thomas Oppong, in this article, “Motivated Reasoning: Why It’s Hard to Change Your Mind,” points out, “that ‘motivated reasoning’ is to blame-and we’re all guilty of it. It’s difficult to persuade people with strong beliefs, values, or ideologies.” The more we learn and grow, the harder it can be to re-open decisions already made. It can feel like pandora’s box opening, not knowing how one change could impact all the other ideas we hold as truth.
We are also just as susceptible to resisting change as anyone else. It takes courage to face change. It can feel like the floor has fallen out from under us. The way I am able to be open to change, without the fear of losing my values or my faith, is to affirm a few foundations of belief. For me everything else can be considered, but Jesus will always be the Messiah for me. The Church is the “Body of Christ.” I am called to affirm and share the life-giving message of God, through Jesus Christ. Just about everything else can be open to a change of mind. I can consider change without fear, as long as those basic foundations are sacrosanct. Consider the foundations in your life. Change just might be easier to face, if we do.