I once was blind but now I see. Only when we begin to realize that we have been chasing after false promises will our sight return. We see that we have been conned and we are now in a prison of our own making.
One spring afternoon I was driving in the countryside with my parents. The farmland looked green, lush and inviting. I commented on how good the farms looked.
My father, who was a farmer, responded ‘Never buy a farm when you’ve looked at in the late afternoon’.
He had learned that in the late afternoon, with the sun slowly setting, that the grass always looked ‘greener on the other side’.
One of my favorite words is ‘Allure’ and it refers to something having a mysterious attraction or enticement. There is a pull to go towards it.
This allurement can be so strong that you can become blind to sound reason.
In Greek mythology, there were the Sirens who were dangerous creatures that lured nearby sailors with their enchanting music and voices to shipwreck on the rocky coast of their island.
To avoid this fate Odysseus ordered his crew to plug their ears with beeswax and to tie him firmly to the ship’s mast.
I have seen it myself and in many others that you can get drawn away by some allurement and it can shipwreck your life and those you care about. You become blind to sound reason and you self-deceive.
Preacher and Bible commentator Matthew Henry wrote some memorable words in commenting on Psalm 82
“A gift in secret blinds their eyes. They know not because they
will not understand. None so blind as those that will not see.
They have baffled their own consciences, and so they walk on
in darkness.” Matthew Henry
Let’s unpack this.
- A gift in secret blinds their eyes. I believe he is referring to the effect that a bribe has. ‘Just look the other way (blind your eyes) and you will receive a gift and let’s keep this transaction secret’
- They know not because they will not understand. There is a choice whether we want to understand something or not. The allurement is so strong that we don’t even want to try and understand its powerful pull and so we don’t gain that knowledge.
- None so blind as those that will not see. This well-known saying points to a stubborn chosen resistance to invite introspection and a potential revelation that we are in error.
- They have baffled their own consciences, and so they walk on in darkness. The God-given moral compass of whats right and wrong has been knocked off course, baffled, by a magnet of our own desires. We are curved in on ourselves (Incurvatus in se )
Don’t think that you are immune to deception. We can all be living a cloud of our own false beliefs and have this supported by the groupthink of others. Just look at any cult and how slowly and subtly the brainwashing corrupts the mind.
I look at some churches and some of the theologies (how we talk about God) they have and how it skews the heart away from the truth. How we talk about God is how we talk about everything.
The False Promise
We are always looking for a quick solution to the pain we are feeling.
What is the quickest solution to get what I want? Where is the shortcut? How can I numb my pain?
Alcohol, drugs, shopping, pornography, work, cosmetics, reading, binge-watching TV, gambling, eating, playing games, social media. The list really is endless, and the false promise of this bribe is that you will find life.
The Coca-Cola ad from 1978 is so compelling.
‘Coke adds life and everybody needs a little life’
When someone accepts a bribe they come under the control of the one offering the bribe. Then more and more and more can be demanded.
Fear of exposure are the bars of a prison cell of one’s own making. Shame and guilt interplay as two schoolyard bullies locking you in.
There is a way out of this prison of your own making. It isn’t pretty or nice or comfortable. In fact, its the exact opposite and few are brave enough to take it.
I’ll talk more about that next post.
Quotes to Consider
- A silly idea is current that good people do not know what temptation means. This is an obvious lie. Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is… A man who gives in to temptation after five minutes simply does not know what it would have been like an hour later. That is why bad people, in one sense, know very little about badness. They have lived a sheltered life by always giving in. C.S. Lewis
- The greatest temptations are not those that solicit our consent to obvious sin, but those that offer us great evils masking as the greatest goods. Thomas Merton
- The false self tells you what it immediately wants and seldom knows what it really needs. Richard Rohr
Questions to answer and leave a comment below or anonymously
- Why do you think we so easily getting allured away?
- Coca-Cola doesn’t actually add life, (sorry if I have shattered some of your false beliefs) but what actually does add life?
- Thomas Merton expresses that some of the greatest temptations come from great evils masking as great goods. Can you think of some examples?
Image cc: Nick Schumacher
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