For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thornbushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. (Luke 6:43-45 ESV)
If a person’s words are trustworthy, that person will have an established record of trustworthiness. You are not going to be led down a successful path by someone who has never succeeded.
Likewise, a person who is known for encouraging and lifting others up is not likely to tell you something that will be a stumbling block to you. Even if it’s something you didn’t expect, or didn’t WANT, to hear.
We all come to a day of reckoning where we realize the direction we’re going isn’t the one in which we ought to be. I can’t imagine anyone going through his or her entire lives without making at last one major course correction. (If you’re reading this and you haven’t yet, don’t worry, you will.)
No matter who you are and what your situation is, that situation, and your destiny, will never change without you making some conscious decision to change your way of thinking and go a way you haven’t gone before. This could mean a slight change in direction, or a complete 180.
The churchy word for a change of mind, accompanied by a change of direction, is “repentance.”
The important thing to understand is that repentance cannot occur without new information entering the cranium. You can’t change your mind or choose your direction without knowing that you have a choice to make.
The trouble is that the right choice is not always the easy one. In fact, it usually isn’t. The right choice usually results from your having received information that you needed, but not necessarily that you wanted.
Anybody can tell you what you want to hear. If you want your current belief system to be affirmed, the internet is more than happy to oblige. All you have to do is type what you already believe into your favorite search engine. You will find thousands, maybe even millions of people, to affirm your point of view.
There’s just one problem with this. Belief DN= Truth. As such, a quest for affirmation will never lead to intellectual or spiritual growth.
AFFIRMATION DN= INFORMATION
Now don’t get me wrong; I am speaking of affirmation in the sense of affirming a point of view, not one’s own self-worth. The latter is healthy affirmation. I will tell you plainly that I crave that kind of affirmation nearly as much as I crave oxygen.
However, a quick perusal of the Truthseeker Manifesto will illuminate everything that is detrimental about a quest for affirmation of one’s worldview.
You can’t end an argument by attempting to bolster your own position. You can’t establish common ground without leaving your own ground. Seeking to affirm your beliefs does not afford you the opportunity to test them. Also, it is very difficult to explain your own reasoning when all it consists of is quote mining from other people’s reasoning.
Essentially, the quest for affirmation is a rejection of Truthseeking. The desire for affirmation is a symptom of insecurity. Specifically, it is the fear of losing everything that is familiar to you on the off chance that whatever, or whoever, is challenging your belief pattern might have some information that you would have to accept.
The only way to overcome this fear is to have a burning desire to be informed, not just to believe, but to KNOW! But knowledge only comes when you take the lid off the glass.
In a culture that values affirmation, however, this is easier said than done. If we are serious about obtaining information that is worth knowing and passing on, we may have to look to history.
(For a different kind of history lesson, come back for Part 11—Backwards)