Suppressing Discomfort Brings Disaster

14 Oct

Recently a school district in Mississippi removed the classic novel “To Kill A Mockingbird” from their junior-high reading list. According to the school board president, Kenny Holloway, the reason for its removal was that “some of the book’s language makes people uncomfortable.”

The book, written in 1960, chronicles the lives of siblings Scout and Jem Finch as their lawyer father, Atticus Finch, defends a black man accused of raping a white woman in a small Alabama town. Despite evidence that proves the man’s innocence, the all-white jury finds him guilty.

“To Kill A Mockingbird” was Harper Lee’s first novel. Critically acclaimed, the book garnered Lee the 1961 Pulitzer Prize. It has been widely read both in and out of the public school system across the United States since its publication.

The subject of racial inequality is understandably the cause of much discomfort. It’s undeniable that it exists in this country. But the idea that people – especially children on the verge of adulthood – should be shielded from uncomfortable subject matter is dangerous.

People who are willing to only hear what they want to hear have no chance of improving. Improvement can only come when one realizes they are not what they should be and then takes the steps to improve. Used properly, discomfort is a stimulus that motivates us to make changes that make lives better for ourselves and for others.

Over the past few decades the United States has become a pleasure-seeking culture. We only want to experience things and be told things that make us feel good. Hence, the explosive influence of sex into virtually every aspect of our lives. Anything that causes emotional distress is seen as bad and sometimes even criminal.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the efforts we’ve seen in recent years by special-interest groups and government to remove God and the Bible from our society.

The Bible – God’s word to mankind – calls every member of the human race a sinner. And a hypocrite. And a liar. And sexually immoral. And selfish. The list goes on.

But people don’t want to hear negative things about themselves. Instead, they only want to hear words that make them feel good, regardless of whether those words are true or not. They want to think they’re wonderful and good just as they are.

As a result of the discomfort caused by the Bible, we’ve been removing God from our country as fast as we can. In the past few decades we’ve removed the teaching of creationism from our schools. We’ve removed the Bible from schools. We’ve criminalized prayer in schools. We’ve removed monuments of the Ten Commandments from public places. We’ve even removed references to the role religion, specifically Christianity, played in the history of the United States.

But we’re not done yet. There are on-going efforts to further remove God from our culture including removing the words “In God we trust” from our money and coinage.

All because people are offended by God’s word.

Each of us can choose how we’ll react to any information we receive. This includes how we react to what God says. We can choose to reject His words, and even to fight against them. Or we can choose to see them for what they really are – the truth.

Suppressing or ignoring the truth, even if it makes you uncomfortable, is never an appropriate response. Doing so may make you feel better about yourself, but a comfortable feeling built solely on lies is a precarious place to be.

Even worse, you’re only delaying the moment when you have to finally admit the truth about yourself to yourself. The longer you delay, the more disastrous the consequences once you inevitably do admit it.

The Bible certainly does make people uncomfortable – much more so than “To Kill A Mockingbird”. C.S. Lewis, the English philosopher who went from being a staunch atheist to being one of Christianity’s most ardent apologists, famously said: “If you want a religion to make you feel comfortable, I certainly do not recommend Christianity”.

God intentionally makes us uncomfortable for a reason. He wants us to know how broken we are. He wants us to realize that due to our brokenness – our sin – we’re headed for a horrific eternity in hell.

And He also wants us to know that He loves us has made a way for us to avoid such a fate.

The way God made for us is through the death of Jesus. As Jesus hung on the cross He became sin and took on the wrath due us because of our sin. As a result, everyone’s sin has been paid for. All you have to do is accept that payment.

If you do, then you are no longer seen as a sinner in God’s eyes. Instead, God will call you His son or daughter. And His heir. And His masterpiece. And blameless. And righteous. And holy. And beloved. And a citizen of heaven. The list goes on.

Telling ourselves lies will only lead to disaster. When it comes to lying to ourselves about our sinfulness, that disaster is eternal. We need to acknowledge what we are so we can change.

True change cannot happen without motivation. Our motivation to repent of our sins begins with being made uncomfortable by what we really are.

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