The Price of Ignorance

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Saturday, February 24, 2018 0 comments

by Nathan Buck

Regardless of your political affiliation, read through this, as it is important for all of us. In the last week, we have seen the termination of an NBC commentator for his comments during the Olympic Opening Ceremonies, the negative Twitter flurry over an appropriate quote from Hamilton used to congratulate US figure skater Mirai Nagasu, and the admonishment of other commentators for any statement that could be taken wrong by anyone. We saw the use of Twitter by Adam Rippon to amplify his spotlight by taking a shot at Vice President Pence as being hateful toward gays, and then duck and cover when the VP offered to meet in person and have a conversation to get to know each other. The climax of the week was Joy Behar, on The View, stating without hesitation or reservation, that to be Christian and to say you 'hear God' is a sign of mental illness. Her comments were specifically directed at VP Pence, but they were insensitive, slanderous, and hurtful.

The outcry from religious people and mental health community was swift, and many demanded her termination. VP Pence responded with respect and disappointment, pointing out the damage this kind of careless speech can have on those who do struggle with mental illness, and also on people of all faiths - whose relationship with their god was stated as illness.

Now, I am not advocating for Pence, nor am I stumping for action on any of these specific events. I AM wanting to point out the extreme irresponsibility and damage that can be done when people publically speak out of ignorance. If there is a call to action, it is in what we learn from these situations. Look at what these events have in common. In each of them, someone tried to be smart, funny, popular, recognized, or powerful by stating something publically that they thought would help others see them this way. And in each circumstance, they said something out of their lack of knowledge or experience, and they ignited criticism and backlash. Maybe they did it knowing what would happen, maybe it was calculated, but it appears to just be stupidity given voice. We used to just tolerate these comments and ignore them - knowing that person would eventually encounter reality, or maybe we would thoughtfully share the truth with them. But NOW the culture is trained to be 'triggered' every time someone says something stupid, inflammatory, etc. The reactions are sharp, tribal, and often just as ignorant.

Ok, this is not a new phenomenon, even if we feel like it is new to us in our culture. Even Charles Dickens included in the Christmas Story that the two most dangerous "creatures" were Ignorance and Want. Consider the ways in which ignorance and desire have lead us to racial division, wars, class separation, and genocide. There is a heavy price for ignorance, which brings me to Jesus' example in Matthew 15:1-20.

Jesus and his followers just finished traveling across the Sea of Galilee by boat, teaching people and physically healing people. They are tired, and yet empowered by God and doing amazing things, and apparently they grabbed a snack. Religious leaders there decided this was a time to challenge Jesus and try to invalidate what is happening. Instead of acknowledging the good and celebrating that people have been miraculously healed, instead of acknowledging the work Jesus and His disciples are doing for people, these religious leaders focus on the fact that the disciples didn't pause to ceremonially wash their hands before eating.

Why am I calling this out? The religious leaders thought they were uber smart and tuned into God's plans. They knew the rules and believed that they were in a position to correct Jesus and discredit Him. They spoke out of what they were certain they knew, and they never considered the potential of their ignorance.

Read the rest of the passage carefully. See how Jesus responds to them. What does He call out? 

Jesus counters their appeal to the 'clean hands' tradition that they FELT was sacred, and exposes how they have used their traditions to break God's commands which ARE sacred. They had become so confident of their position and interpretation of events that they couldn't see where they were getting it wrong. They spoke from the silo of their experience and forgot that God sees everything and can consider every perspective in helping people live out what IS true and right and good.

But here is what is critical: Jesus said, “It is not what goes into a person's mouth that makes them unclean, but what comes out of it... the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart and these defile them... from the heart come evil thoughts: murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander...these are what defile a person.” As we face another day of reactive media attention, violence in our schools, and division within our nation and our neighborhoods, let us fully acknowledge this simple truth. Unrestrained lips are destructive, no matter who may be speaking.

If we are going to stop the downward spiral of our culture, it is going to start with people who care about knowing the Truth and speaking words that heal and restore. The path forward for us as a nation and as the human race is to shut out ignorance and the reactiveness of our short-sightedness. We need to assume our ignorance, position ourselves as learners, and in the places where we get to speak God's Truth, do so with gentleness and respect. Even if we are pressed to defend ourselves or others against the ignorance that perpetrates all kinds of evil, we must do so with humble restraint toward what is actually true, and with every effort to open the eyes of those who are acting in ignorance - just like Jesus did.

I recognize that there was a season in my life where I was hyper critical of the mystical, like Joy Behar, and may have even dared to speak outrageous things. Fortunately, I did not remain ignorant on the things I had spoken so firmly against, and I pray the same for her. I also hope all of us are able to acknowledge our own ignorance and be willing to discuss, discover, and discern, so that we and others do not have to pay the heavy price of ignorance.

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