Why do you think what you think and believe what you believe? Are your thought patterns based on what you have heard your parents say? Are your beliefs based on a book you read decades ago?
Today, I want to challenge us to switch off the autopilot and not react to difficult questions based on yesterday’s understanding and beliefs.
Many of our reactive answers to complex challenges and ethical dilemmas come from the pressure to give an immediate answer. This is dangerous because it means we can neglect dedicating time to necessary research. Or even worse, we default to what past generations believed, based on what they knew to be true.
For example, there’s our stance on whether a sick person should be able to access medication not yet approved by our nation’s medical board or a terminally ill person’s decision to cease medical treatment altogether. How quickly we draw a conclusion “for” or “against”, but based on what?
I realise that some ideas and beliefs I hold to today I didn’t hold to yesterday. That’s ok. I’m willing to adjust my thinking if realising my error puts me back on the right path. And if necessary, I’m willing to say nothing at all.
There were days when make-up, jeans and voting were not acceptable for females. That seems absurd today. It makes me think, what are those things today that seem “uncomfortable” or even “wrong” but in a few decades from now, after a more considered approach, will seem “right”?
We say so easily, “how times have changed.” Really? Do “times” have the power to change wrong to right or is it ideas and our bias or preconceived ideas that have changed? Maybe over time, wisdom has had a chance to show its hand and directly influence our core beliefs.
Changing ideas does not suggest weakness or defeat. To the contrary, changing ideas suggests bravely confronting real issues that affect real people’s lives. As a Christian, if I fail to consider Christ’s perspective above all else on any given issue, then I miss out on knowing truth. After all, there is no man in history who has better exemplified grace and truth.
I believe in absolutes, but I also understand that we live in a world where I don’t have all the answers. There are certain situations that demand more thought and an open mind and heart. I can’t afford not to respond to pain with grace.
While I believe in the absolute of divine healing, that God can, does and is able to heal, in the past that has stopped me being open to someone talking to me about their fear of death or their desire to talk to their loved ones about the possibility of not being healed. As if somehow God would refuse to heal those He loves because they discussed real life and suffering.
What I have realised in the midst of my own battle with disease, and mixing with others in similar battles, is that it’s important I don’t answer people’s questions of deep issues with cliché, off the cuff, unthoughtful answers.
What’s important is that I walk a mile in their shoes.
What’s important is that I allow love to direct my response.