Scripture Focus: 1 Thessalonians 2.1-4
1 You know, brothers and sisters, that our visit to you was not without results. 2 We had previously suffered and been treated outrageously in Philippi, as you know, but with the help of our God we dared to tell you his gospel in the face of strong opposition. 3 For the appeal we make does not spring from error or impure motives, nor are we trying to trick you.
“Pray……we don’t get fooled again.” — The Who
Reflection: Fear of Being Fooled
By John Tillman
People don’t like being tricked. I don’t even like surprise parties.
Perhaps our fear of being fooled goes all the way back to Genesis? After the serpent fooled his parents, the Lord told Cain sin was a crouching creature to be mastered. (Genesis 4.6-7) We won’t be fooled again…we hope. Yet, over and over again, like Cain, sin masters us. The serpent fools us.
There are many stories we tell ourselves about our world being a deception. Free Guy, The Matrix films, and The Truman Show are just a few examples. In these stories, someone is living within what they think is real, what they think is normal, and what they think is good. But eventually, they find the truth.
Neo wakes up. Truman sails his boat into the wall of the sky. Guy learns about his creator and his imprisoner. In all these stories, someone is trying to fool the protagonist and someone is trying to free the protagonist. There’s a deceiver and a truth-teller at work.
Is it possible to go through life and never be fooled? I doubt it. If you never trust or put faith in anything, every time a true thing comes into your life and you refuse to believe it…you fool yourself. If you’ve been living with or inside a lie, being told the truth can feel like a trick. Sometimes, the skepticism that we think is protecting us, is actually keeping us imprisoned.
Neo, Truman, and Guy had truth-tellers who worked to free them from what they thought was normal, good, and real. These stories in our culture show our fear of being fooled and that searching for truth is arduous and risky.
Skeptics aren’t usually out to try to harm believers. Most of the time they’re just trying to keep from being harmed.
Skeptics in our lives need safe places and time for journeys of discovery. We need to allow them to work things out slowly, but that doesn’t mean the work isn’t urgent. We, like Paul, need to ensure skeptics that the gospel we share does not spring from error or impure motives. Words won’t be enough. It will take meals, time together, sharing experiences, and having difficult but respectful conversations about what is true.
As we help them search for truth, the truth will set them free.
Divine Hours Prayer: The Request for Presence
So teach us to number our days that we may apply our hearts to wisdom. — Psalm 90.12
– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle.
Numbers 20 (Listen 4:15)
1 Thessalonians 2 (Listen 2:53)
Read more about Last to Believe
Far from putting Thomas down, John treats Thomas’s journey from doubt to faith with respect and tenderness.
Read more about When Skepticism meets Kindness
Sometimes we look at kindness and assume there is a scheme of self-promotion or self-preservation behind it all.