Happy New Year!
Monday, January 6th begins the season of Epiphany, the time when we celebrate God’s self revelation to the world in the form of Jesus. I have a special sermon series planned on the topic.
The question, however, is when we see Jesus do we see what is really there or do we see what we want to see?
(What do we see when we picture Jesus?)
Confirmation bias is the tendency to see the results that confirm what we already believe and ignore the rest. It is something of a plague on the human condition. Studies that show a drug safe for human consumption that ignore results as anomalies, the loving spouse who fails to heed their own intuition about a cheating partner, hearing everything as criticism when you are upset with yourself, or almost every voter regarding almost every political figure in history.
Certainly in Jesus day people had trouble seeing who he really was. The crowds followed him because they thought he would feed him and ignored his divine origins. Another wanted to seize him and make him king. The crowd in Nazareth turned quickly when he brought up gentiles. Even the disciples, in spite of Peter’s declaration, seem to not really get it for a long time after the crucifixion.
We do it too.
We say we want to be like Christ, but a Christ who is already a lot like us is an easier target. We have a Christ who loves what we love and hates what we hate. We have a Christ who wants us to be “better” but the definition is a little nebulous and looks a lot like our own cultural norms. We have a Christ, in short, who is not terribly challenging to follow. Who is comforting in his familiarity. Who is mild in his rebuke.
The existence of the Son of God, even if nothing else, should challenge us to see the world with ever renewing eyes. To look long and hard for the truth. To not rest in what we are but always strive to become better. To love what he loves and to condemn only what he condemns, which when we look closely is a) everyone and b) almost nothing beyond religious hypocrisy and abuse of power.
So my first challenge for you this new year is to examine yourself, your own confirmation biases, and determine what keeps you from seeing Christ as you should and thus what keeps you from living like Christ.
Oh and if you want a Biblical reference for this:
Matthew 7:3-5 New International Version (NIV)
3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.