The presidential debate and the open mind

There’s nothing like a presidential debate to bring out the crazy in people.

But it wasn’t the predictable political bias from all the networks that stood out to me after Wednesday’s debate.  It was a lesson I keep having to relearn about us homo sapiens: many people have no intention of changing their mind.

I forget.

People watch debates and read the news and engage in conversations – not looking for insight, not to better understand, not to think more deeply – but with their minds already made up, hunting to confirm their positions, looking to compile extra fuel for Facebook posts they’ve already written. The talking heads weren’t watching our presidential candidates with an open mind to better form their opinions; they were collecting evidence to justify their pre-conceived ideas. They extract sound bites to fire up the support base (and sell Toyotas during the commercial break).

It’s a dangerous flaw: many people will not change their mind.  No matter how good the idea or compelling the argument. We love to be heard, not to listen, and it’s unfortunate. It’s the tragedy of the closed mind.

But marriage never works like that.

Friendship never works like that.

Leadership never works like that.

Why won’t we change our minds? Because it feels beneath us. Because humility is a virtual miracle, and it takes humility to change one’s mind.

We have to get this. Disciples are humble. Disciples listen. Disciples are learners. Disciples keep an open mind for truth. It’s not that we never reach conclusions; we do. It’s just that disciples are people of the open mind – always ready to acknowledge truth and beauty wherever they happen to find it.

All beauty and truth is ultimately found in Jesus.

The Bible has an explosive word for this changing-of-the-mind-and-heart reality: repentance. 

Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the good news of God, saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the good news.” (Mark 1:14-15)

People don’t reject Jesus because they are so open-minded; it’s usually because they are closed-minded.

I know this word gets some seriously bad marketing but it’s much better news than we imagine. I realize our cultures and our politicians and our religions have raised us in the lifestyle of anti-repentance, but I assure you, there is no greater way than the way of repentance. Real disciples are different. Real disciples are repenters.

Let’s do this.


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