We can rationalize anything to the point of fully accepting a lie Someone is critical of us and we immediately dismiss the validity of their criticism because of their questionable character, mal-intent, or inexperience. Someone has admirable qualities (better than ours) because of their upbringing, good genes (gifts), or they can’t help themselves; they’re just a "good" person. "I can’t say that was from God, but it was a nice coincidence, it ‘worked out’, I was ‘fortunate’". "They aren’t prosperous because of a series of good decisions or hard work, things have simply gone their way." "He regularly meets with God in the morning because he’s a morning person and is more "naturally" disciplined." "That wasn’t the result of my poor choices, I’ve just had a run of bad luck." "She is so well-respected because she know’s the right people and is a ‘gifted’ speaker." "I would be happy, too, if I had his life." How many churches have been called "evil" because they made someone feel dirty. "The problem isn’t with me, it’s with them!"
Rationalization usually brings another down and/or elevates me. A person with admirable behavior is demonized because we feel badly that we aren’t more like them. Our bad behavior is someone else’s fault. If they hadn’t done that or if they were different, I would have made different choices.
Superstition is a form of rationalization, poor reasoning used to interpret life and circumstances. It is all over here in the Amazon. People apply a worn cliche and think no more. Rationalization allows people to stay on a very superficial level of living because they decide what they believe and fit everything into their box of reason (what they can understand). It is amazing to hear the rationale of the river people for why things happen to them. He swam after eating acai (local fruit). The wind blew and brought this illness in. She ironed her clothes and opened the fridge and became sick. We can’t eat that fruit and this meat together because it will give us diarrhea. You can’t talk after an operation for three days or you will not recover. There are so many, some so silly, some so sad. We have our old "wives’ tales" in the states, still held especially in the "country". All forms of rationalization to explain something in terms we understand and often well apart from truth, because, in fact, we don’t understand. I know when I played baseball, we had all kinds of superstition/rationalization that we "believed". We didn’t wash various parts of our uniform if we were hitting well, we went through the same routines before games, pitches, etc, if we were playing well and we changed them if we had a slump, we listened to the same music before a big game, we didn’t step on the foul line, etc. Superstition has created more than a few alcoholics in sports because of that one time they drank the night before a game and played well… Rationalization/superstition is the admission that life (or certain circumstances) is beyond the control of people who want to portray themselves (even to themselves) as "in control".
Rationalization is a symptom of an arrogant, proud heart that can’t deal with the truth of its insignificance and/or impotence. When will we finally accept that understanding is beyond us, say "I don’t know" and trust in a good God’s control and care? When will we stop the rationalization and put in the necessary effort to see something as it really is, even if our humble (truth is so humbling) perspective is flawed and foggy? There is a profound statement in the book "Byzantium" by Stephen Lawhead (one of the best historical fiction books I’ve read) that says, "Truth is a cold and bitter drink, and few take it undiluted."
Truth is difficult to face and few have the courage to wrestle with it and make their choices based on it, without rationalization . The following is a list of a few truths that are (in my opinion) typically ignored in most churches:
1) all of us are really quite screwed up in so many ways (yes, including the guy in the pulpit!),
2) we are far weaker and needy than we portray,
3) we wear masks more often than we don’t,
4) our choices affect our "destiny" far more than outside forces (people, chance, evil, etc),
5) all of our progress and technology has changed the essence of earthly life very little,
6) millions will die this year from malaria and other treatable diseases,
7) the greatest health problem in every country is nutrition (over-nutrition in developed countries, under-nutrition in the third world),
8) In the U.S., Brazil and other places, many gods are worshipped, but they aren’t given names. Hinduism is the most honest and up-front religion in the world in that it actually has names for all the gods that are worshipped.
9) most people still see Jesus as a good teacher without ever reading his words (if they read His words, they would see that this rationale is not reasonably possible)
So do we accept truth and live our lives as a response to truth or do we avoid or ignore truth through rationalization? How are we personally responding to the true pain, confusion, and difficulty in our world today (some expressed in the above), locally and abroad?
The most important issue facing any of us in any circumstance (whether we understand or not) is, "How will I respond?" How I will respond? This emphasis pushes one away from philosophical ideologies and toward the messy and necessary experiences of trial and error (responding). An emphasis on our response and not on understanding creates in us wisdom as we seek outside help (sources of experience and wisdom, like other people, elders, parents, and God) to respond well and in a way that will bless people and not wound them.
Wisdom directs the question of our response to our Father, asking Him what He would have us do.
Without breathing for three to five minutes, your life would irreversibly end. A worthwhile study: Examine all of the spontaneous, wondrous factors within your body, beyond your control, that occur to enable you to simply breathe.
The more we look outward (our solar system, galaxy, and beyond), and the more we look inward (life on the cellular and atomic level), the more awe inspiring becomes both the design and the designer.
Disagreement among brothers is normal. How we disagree (in love) is more important than the matter itself.
Prayer is like exercise in that often the biggest challenge is getting started.
Busyness prevents relationship building; idleness is an invitation to the enemy.
Marry young and hope that when you and your spouse grow up, they will still be the person that you now want to marry.
God often acts in ways that man would not choose or expect.
Arrogance says that life should be better, that I should have more, that I should not have to work so hard, that I should be happier. Humility recognizes that which it has been given, and is grateful.
Problems are not evil but our response to them may be.
Our response to problems/difficulty will be one of either pushing away from, or pushing toward, our Father.
There is no such thing as life without problems or change. Learn well how to respond to these rather than wish that they weren’t there.
To wish that something wasn’t real, or would be different, has no value. A wise response, to what is, has value.