On the Life of the Mind: Denial

by Bethany

Highlighted Text: Mark 5:15, 17
Full Text: Jeremiah 19; Mark 5

Denial | “Whatever … the postmortems reveal about the [current economic] crisis, one culprit is abundantly clear: denial,” writes HBS Professor Richard Tedlow in his book, Denial: Why Business Leaders Fail to Look Facts in the Face. He says that denial is, “the unconscious calculus that if an unpleasant reality were true, it would be too terrible, so therefore it cannot be true” [1]. What does it look like? Winston Churchill said, “Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing ever happened.”

Response | The authority of Jesus is an inconvenient truth for some people. When Jesus went to Gerasenes, a madman came running at him from the mountains. The man was bloodstained and scarred. He had demonic strength; even chains and shackles could not bind him. Yet he called out to Jesus, who drove out the man’s demons and sent them into two thousand pigs that, in turn, rushed down to the sea and drowned. Immediately, the man was calm and in his right mind. Yet no one praised Jesus. In one of the saddest moments of the gospels, the people asked him to leave. Mark wrote, “They were afraid … and they began to beg Jesus to depart from their region” [2].

Willful | Jesus was too powerful and, even worse, too costly. After all, he sent their income (the pigs) into the sea. Yes, they stumbled over the spectacular truth that this man Jesus had authority even over the demons. Since it was also an inconvenient truth, however, they picked themselves up and hurried off as if nothing happened. They ignored (or denied) the greater reality that Jesus wielded his extraordinary authority to show compassion on the sick. Instead of seeing his authority as a refuge, they saw it as a threat. They should have run to Jesus, proclaiming, “What shall we say to these things we have seen? If God is for us, who can be against us?” [3]

Prayer | Lord, We praise you because, in Christ, your authority is not a threat, but a refuge. Yet we confess that your authority sometimes seems like an inconvenient truth. When obedience seems too costly, we often choose to live according to our own authority. Forgive us and, by your Spirit, open our eyes and melt our hearts so that denial has no place in our lives. Amen.

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Footnotes

[1] Richard Tedlow. Denial: Why Business Leaders Fail to Look Facts in the Face and What to Do About It.  |  [2] Mark 5:15, 17 ESV  |  [3] Romans 8:31

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