John Locke (1632-704), the famed philosopher who wrote An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, proposed that everyone is born with a “Tabula Rasa” or, as it is translated, a “blank slate” of knowledge. Locke, a British philosopher, Oxford academic, and medical researcher, pioneered the world of epistemology (the study of knowledge). Locke’s suggestion that we being as a blank slate led subsequent philosophers to inquire how we are swayed by the positive and negative influences of culture, experience, and even parents. Even if Locke was wrong, and we enter the world with subtle predispositions, we can’t deny the power of psychological influences. These forces have navigated nations. This transformative ability of information to pull individuals into a false or broken reality has been the angst of human civilization for thousands of years.
As we watch a psychological phenomenon occurring in our nation today, we can’t deny an unsettling truth. Weak beliefs and suspicions can rapidly sway masses of people.
Who is influencing the way you emotionally respond to all that is happening around you? As the world is washed away by currents of fear and suspicions, how can you find a stable place to stand and bring peace to your mind? May I suggest a little thought-washing along with the repetitively suggested hand washing?
What do I mean by this? Jesus gave to his disciples a truth to clean their lens of perception amidst a culture blinded by superstition and fear. He said to them,
“You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. (John 15:3)
In this passage, Jesus tells us how hearing of God’s voice can shape our perception of the world around us. This metaphorical “washing” is what we need. When Jesus speaks to us, and we allow His words to cleanse the lens of our perception, our grasp on reality will be healthy and life-giving. This is the truth that can immunize you against the infectious virus of fear that seems to be plaguing many minds. Yes, wash your hands like a normal person, but wash your mind with the words of Jesus. He said to us,
“If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:31-32).
I am not disputing the valid concerns that lay before us as a nation, but the pandemic response seems somewhat disproportionate. Why do we see craziness ravaging the otherwise normal in our communities? Could it be that many have grown accustomed to viewwing their realities through the darkened lens of cultural persuasion and fear? How can the follower of Jesus see clearly through all the news alerts and media posts? We must daily hear God’s voice and wash our perception with His words.
Notice the sequence of Jesus’ statement in the passage above. He says we must abide in His Word. Now, this isn’t implying we should become textual scholars. Although being a scholar wouldn’t hurt ones chances of experiencing God’s wisdom, we should consider two things about Jesus’ statement. First, there was no New Testament written at the time He spoke these words. Secondly, the Old Testament was not available to the average listener in Jesus’ audience. What then could He mean in saying, “abide in my word?” He is saying that we must internally hear His voice. He is speaking to us. If we take a moment to stop, rest, and listen, He will give us the counsel through which we can view our reality.
Move forward with this simple exercise. Block out a good thirty to forty-five minutes. Get alone in a quiet place. Worship Jesus and ask Him, “What do you think about all that is happening around me?” You may be surprised to discover He isn’t panicking and He does have a plan for you in the next few weeks to come.
Looking back at the text, Jesus says, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth…” Jesus highlights the practice of abiding in His words. He marks one as His disciple if they obey His voice. Then He continues saying, you can “know the truth.” The truth. This is the correct perception through which many desperately need to see. This view, however, can only be gained by His disciples.
A truth that you can view your day through every morning is that Jesus is good. He has a plan for you and the ones He has given to you. He has a plan to bring His incredible kingdom into the lives of everyone who will see themselves through His words. He wants to show you His way of seeing the next few months ahead so you can show others who He is. As you see truths like this, they will do what Jesus said they would do. They will set you free.