Merriam-Webster defines inertia as "a property of matter by which it remains at rest or in uniform motion in the same straight line unless acted upon by some external force." No doubt you've seen this in action. And here's what you know: the bigger the object, the harder it is to change its trajectory.
The same is true of ideologies. We humans have a tendency to like what we already like (to state the obvious). Car salespeople know, for example, that we are often proud of previous purchases. Capitalizing on our weakness, they might begin a sales call this way: "I see you're driving a (insert your car's make and model). Those are great cars. That was a smart purchase."
Just the other day I had a wonderful conversation with a thoughtful friend about the (potential) destruction of theological inertia - the tendency we all have to view Jesus, God, and the Bible through a particular lens. While it's good to be steadfast in our love for Yeshua (if you like Jesus better, think inertia), it isn't good to trade truth for lies.
So, how do we know when we're guilty?
Believing What We Want to Believe
Excerpted from Untamed: Reactivating a Missional Form of Discipleship by Alan and Debra Hirsch
When we deliberately turn our hearts from the love of truth and redefine it to suit ourselves, we will experience the anguish of our choices. God's truth can be for me a guiding light, something that gives me direction, only if it has been revealed to me in my encounter with God - not if I have somehow selected it for myself from among many existing options. The heresy in this act is nothing other than the clinging to a particular thought or idea simply because it is one's own. And the result is, as Charles Williams wrote, "the disintegration of the intellect, the justification to oneself of error and evil" (2010:69).
"Who among you fears the LORD and obeys the word of his servant?
Let him who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the LORD and rely on his God. But now, all you who light fires and provide yourselves with flaming torches, go, walk in the light of your fires and of the torches you have set ablaze. This is what you shall receive from my hand: You will lie down in torment."
So, how do we know when we're guilty? In my experience, there are a number of tell-tale signs. The signs aren't foolproof, but they are something to consider.
- We stop genuinely listening to others' viewpoints
- Our viewpoint is informed more by books, speakers (often pastors), videos, or groups than God's Word
- Our paycheck or reputation is dependent on a particular viewpoint
- We rely too much on English versions of the Bible
- We're prone to proof texting - that is, we try to back up our viewpoint by referencing a single verse or passage without doing the hard work of understanding the verse's or passage's context
- We rely more on church tradition than Scripture (usually, people don't like parting ways with either their childhood "religion" or earliest experiences of "Christianity")
- We talk too much or are too eager to express our opinion
- We're pretty certain we're right
- We read a list like this and say to ourselves, "I'm not guilty of any of the above"
At some point, I have been guilty of every one of the above. When that happens and I become aware of it, I must repent. I'm sorry, Lord. Now, there are times when you may think you are right and, in fact, your are right! This does occur. You've studied. You're humble. You're not capitulating to the status quo. And that's good. The point here is not to suggest someone can't be right, but that sometimes, in our wanting to be right, we miss out on what is, in fact, right. Read that last sentence slowly - believe it or not, it does make sense.
I'm committing right along with you to truth over ego.