DAY 58: Friday 15 May
In the run-up to national elections or a referendum, or now with the daily ministerial briefings about Coronavirus, millions of words are uttered by politicians, pundits, political commentators and ‘experts.’ Party leaders appear regularly on TV screens with claim and counter-claim of what they would or would not do if elected to form the next government. But when members of the public are invited to give their reaction to these claims and promises, I sometimes wonder if I had been listening to the same speech.
Years ago, much of my working week involved driving to and from business meetings so that meant a lot of time listening to the car radio. I tended to tune to BBC Radio 2 in order to catch the traffic news reports, and the regular morning slot in those days was the Jimmy Young show (now the Jeremy Vine show) with a mix of current affairs and music.
Following live discussion on the issue of that day, listeners would be invited to phone in their comments and reaction. But here again, there were occasions when I found myself questioning if I’d heard the same programme – some comments just didn’t relate to what I thought I had heard.
Often, what we think we ‘heard’ is conditioned by our own pre-conceived ideas or expectations and much of what has become known as ‘Fake News’ is often rooted in preconceived prejudice. From watching some of the ministerial question sessions from No.10 over recent weeks, I do get the impression that some journalists are not listening to what is being said as their questions often have little relevance to the topic of the day.
I have never subscribed to any daily newspaper in my life but when I have laid hands on one in some café or waiting room, I have deduced that 50% of the content is gossip, 25% is pure speculation and only 25% is real news. I prefer to get my news from more than one source and then weigh up the versions to decide the probable truth.
Open minds will hear different viewpoints and then decide the truth tested against a reliable measure. Open minds can become fair, just and gracious.
Closed minds refuse to listen to anybody else’s views that don’t agree with theirs. Closed minds are sometimes referred to as ‘hard hearts’.
Broad minds just accept anything they hear without bothering to check any facts. The Bible describes these as on the broad road to destruction.
Narrow minds have become blocked (like a giant fatball blocking a sewer) to hear anything new or different and this sometimes contributes to extremist views.
The Bible describes ‘closed minds’ – when we are unable to hear truth and good above the clamour of our personal and selfish opinion.
Ephesians 4:18 ESV - They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart.
A mind is like a parachute. It doesn't work if it is not open. Someone once said to me ‘I will not allow the facts to interfere with my prejudice.’ Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness. (Mark Twain)
Our minds are living parts of us and if a living organism is shut up in an enclosed space for too long, it starts to deteriorate, then decompose, and frankly begins to stink.
Protect your mind by not restricting it in a closed world.
An open mind allows me to hear or read things where I might instinctively be unsure, but then to test those words against a reliable measure before accepting or rejecting.
A Judge is required to have an open mind to hear both sides of the case and weigh up the outcome when tested against articles of law.
1 Thessalonians 5:21-22 - but test everything that is said. Hold on to what is good. Stay away from every kind of evil.
For the Christian, that ‘reliable measure’ is the gift from God which we know as the Holy Spirit, remembered particularly in this season of Pentecost. One of the important attributes of the Holy Spirit is to “guide us in the truth”. So, let us determine to have open ears to listen and hear, open minds to receive and test the truth, and open hearts to accept and respond to what is good and true. When Jesus appeared to his disciples following the resurrection, as well as demonstrating he was physically alive by eating with them, he also did something else – Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures (Luke 24:5)
Does this mean that to be an open-minded Christian we have to accept any idea or interpretation of Scripture. No, it does not – we do need to humbly hold to the truth of Scripture but not with an arrogant attitude.
In these days of pandemic, the world is searching and waiting for an effective treatment. But whatever eventually does emerge as a treatment, it will have been extensively tested against known measures. Medical authorities across the world cannot just accept the first treatment or the cheapest drug that is offered. In the same way, having an open mind doesn’t mean we blindly accept every idea that comes along – we should test it against a known and trusted standard, which for the Christian is revealed through God’s Word, the Bible.
Philippians 4:8 - Finally, my friends, keep your minds on whatever is true, pure, right, holy, friendly, and proper. Don’t ever stop thinking about what is truly worthwhile and worthy of praise.
A suitable Hymnalong for today >>> MAY THE MIND OF CHRIST MY SAVIOUR
We understand Sheila was transferred to the QE Hospital in Selly Oak last evening
MAKE YOU SMILE:
· If you're too open minded, your brains will fall out.
· Age is a very high price to pay for maturity.
· Artificial intelligence is no match for natural stupidity.
· Middle age is when broadness of the mind and narrowness of the waist change places.
· Junk is something you've kept for years and throw away three weeks before you need it.
· Experience is a wonderful thing. It enables you to recognise a mistake when you make it.
· By the time you can make ends meet, they’ve moved the ends.
· Someone who thinks logically provides a nice contrast to the real world.
· Blessed are they who can laugh at themselves for they shall never cease to be amused.
Enjoy today which promises to be slightly warmer. More tomorrow …