I sometimes express different views in the car to those I express in public. Sometimes it is because I am still working my thinking out. Sometimes it is because I am exploring new ways of thinking and seeing how they sound. Sometimes it is because human nature can draw us to opinions and values that are simple and easy – and wrong. So we have to work hard to overcome them, to change our thinking.
Whatever the subject, I know that every now and then a bigoted thought drops into my head. Maybe it’s about race or immigration or politicians or other Christians or Piers Morgan. What do I do? Nurture it? Sometimes it feels kinda good to be bigoted. Simpler, easier. Or do I need to challenge it, address it, reason with it, change it?
These unconscious prejudices and generalisations are part of human nature, and part of what we call ‘sin’. They come because we have not yet been fully changed and transformed by God. Occasionally having bigoted thoughts in my head does not make me a bigot; nurturing them and expressing them does.
If I take those bigoted thoughts and offer them to God, which may well be painful because they can be quite attractive, that is part of dying to self, taking up our cross. Turning around from them (repenting) and asking for forgiveness is part of what we Christians do. We take our opinions to the cleaners and led Jesus deep-clean them.
It doesn’t happen in one easy step. We have to re-learn our thinking. A couple of weeks ago we swapped the microwave and bread-bin over in the kitchen. I keep trying to get bread from the microwave and defrost chicken in the bread bin. It’s like that with our thoughts. We have to re-learn, and sometimes we slip back to our old ways, our old patterns. Especially when we are tired and busy and stressed.
So, when someone makes a mistake and lets an opinion slip in public when they thought they were in private in the car, how do we react? Do we pretend that we never do it? Or do we cut them a bit of slack and act like grown-ups? Because we know we have opinions that can slip out if we are not careful. We do not want those opinions to define us, but the ones we have submitted to God and allowed him to shine his light on.
Then hopefully we will stop trying to defrost chicken in the bread-bin.
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