Pastoral Ponderings: How do you really know?

The latest from Robin King
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Pastoral Ponderings

Hard to know who or what to believe, isn’t it?

People say things, you read or see things in the news, on the internet, and on social media – however, you acquire information – and you need to decide what you think is true.

How?

Well, I’d say we need to be more discerning and not just accept what we’re hearing and seeing as fact without more thought and consideration of the source and context.

Can you trust the source and what’s the context? What are your criteria for discerning that?

In a world that’s so complex and diverse, so multi-layered and structured, I think we tend to lean towards what we know, what we want to hear and what we’re comfortable with. I

think we have a tendency towards “me first,” not just out of selfishness, but out of safety.

Our natural inclination is to protect ourselves, our own needs and what’s important to us as individuals. Besides, being more discerning and thoughtful can be a whole lot more work.

We’re more inclined to choose the narrative that already supports our view, not the one that challenges it and especially not the one that critiques it. Whether it’s something that benefits us, rights a perceived wrong (to us), or feeds our superficial distaste or fear of something unfamiliar or different, we’re likely to listen to the loud voice that rages with us and follow the action that helps us feel more powerful and important.

It becomes easy to dismiss experts, experience and intellect, and, most importantly, find simple, superficial ways to negate them. “I know you and you’re no better than me,” for example.

Just ask Jesus.

One minute, people are impressed with his teaching and wisdom and wonder how he could be so prophetic, and the next minute in his hometown, even he’s dismissed as the local carpenter’s son, a nobody “from here” who couldn’t possibly achieve such greatness (Mark 6:3 and others).

One minute, the temple authorities dismiss him as an uneducated nobody and the next minute the crowds are astonished that he speaks with such authority (Mark 1:22 and others).

What authority? He’s a poor guy, with no title or training, from Nazareth and “can anything good come from Nazareth?” (John 1:46)

Well, yes, as it happens. And that’s the point. Good doesn’t come from a geographic location, a place in society or a title, it comes from the heart.

To discern what is true and good we need to go deeper, to the deepest part of our hearts which is the good we come into this life with.

Experience, fear and ego may stand in the way, but going deeper takes us to the source of what is true and good.

It’s the only criteria Jesus used: is it love?