April 29, 2010

Minds Wide Open, Eyes Shut Tight 
by John UpChurch, Editor, Jesus.org

For this people's heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.  (Matthew 13:15, NIV)

By the standards of the day, these people had open minds. When John's baptism became the thing to do, they were on that. Sure, the river water didn't smell that great, but everyone needs to try new experiences, right? And if being dunked could get them set straight, they'd do it.

After John came a guy named Jesus—and none too soon. The whole water-plunge-and-locust-eating thing was great for a while, but it got old. Jesus had some rough edges, but they could handle that. After all, this guy healed people, and that was completely new. John never did that.

For a while, following Jesus proved exciting. He taught like no one else, kept on with the fixing messed-up people thing, and challenged the self-important Pharisees. Sometimes He tried to slip away, but they tracked Him down—which is when He got kind of weird.

They found Jesus sitting on the beach—nothing odd about that, and they liked the whole teach-on-the-beach vibe. Since the crowd kept growing, Jesus hopped in a boat and began teaching from there. Before that day His words had been mostly clear, though some of His stuff seemed idealistic, but suddenly He started talking in stories. If they'd wanted to hear stories, they could have stayed home.

They came to hear about the overthrow for Rome, but He spent tons of time talking about some guy tossing seeds all over the place. Tell the guy to aim and move on. But Jesus didn't move on—he launched into some story about weeds. Seeds and weeds, they could see those anywhere. They wanted the Jesus they'd heard on the hill telling them about the Kingdom of God; they wanted the Jesus who patched up blind eyes, smoothed out leprous skin, and whipped disease. That Jesus had been trendy. This parable Jesus grew tiring.

Being open-minded had led those people to the threshold of Truth. He called to them from a boat and gave them the keys to understanding the Kingdom of God. But He also knew them. They hastily latched on to whatever seemed exciting and relevant, and yet they kept their eyes closed tight. They wanted the healing but not the life renovation. They wanted the bread, but not the heavenly variety.

Intersecting Faith & Life: An old adage goes something like this: Their minds are open so wide that stuff falls out. However, in our modern culture, "open-minded" has become synonymous with being trendy, avant-garde, and—let's face it—right. "Closed-minded" people, or so the assumption goes, stick to something and won't seek out new ideas. They're wrong to rigidly abide by a creed.

Jesus doesn't advocate either. He came to teach what had "been hidden since the foundation of the world" (Matthew 13:35)—for those people open to the things of God. But He had no room for minds closed by passionless adherence to religious traditions either (Matthew 23:23).

After all, the point was never the condition of the mind—He's much too interested in hearts.

Further Reading 

Matthew 13
John 6