On my recent trip to the West, I was reading a book called War and Remembrance by Herman Wouk. It is the sequel of The Winds of War, both of which were made into miniseries back in the ’80’s. They are both excellent works if you like history and adventure, and while they had rather too much of a romantic story line for my taste, they are well worth the time.
This post is not a book review however.
There is a great line in the book; profound in fact. Two characters are talking about the horrific activities of the Nazis against the Jews in World War 2. OK, I should have mentioned that these two books are about a family’s journey from 1939 through the end of the war. Anyway, these two characters are discussing how nobody will believe the truth of what is going on, in some cases right in front of their very eyes, when one of them says, “They have the will not to know.”
At this point, I had to set the book down to brood over this statement…
How many times do we run into this? People have evidence in front of them and they don’t ‘connect the dots’ as we say today. I could say that about my whole trip out west (posted 1/9/12). You can say that about people who always vote for candidates who go completely against what they believe as well. For example, my mother-in-law years ago was very up front about the fact that she always voted for Democrats; she hated the evil Republicans, yet when politics was not the subject she was a flaming Conservative and couldn’t say anything nice about “stupid bleeding heart liberals”. Her views were Ronald Reagan, but she voted for Jimmy Carter, thinking he was the conservative!
Getting to the point, how many Christians do you know who profess a strong faith in Christ and yet allow themselves not to notice that many things they like to do, or groups to which they belong are entirely in opposition to Him and are completely counter to His teachings? If you are like me, the number is alarmingly high. Of course in an election year I could ask how many Christians we know might vote against their own faith?
Of course by that last question I’m not suggesting that Christianity is a political force, but rather that some candidates tend to oppose everything Jesus stood for.
Some might view these poor people and simply conclude that they are hypocrites, and it may be true that they appear to be, yet people in this situation usually have no intention to be hypocritical, they just can’t see it. In the same way, many who are not Christians will look right at the evidence for Christ and not see it; they too have the will not to know.
Here’s a Christian example of what I’m talking about: A couple I know knows everything there is to know about marriage. They read all the books, they can recite the verses, and I’ll bet they could teach a great ‘successful marriage’ workshop. The only problem is that during the break they’d be screaming at one another at the top of their lungs calling each other every obscene name you can think of; they simply don’t see themselves in the picture!
The question arises: Is there anything we can do as followers of Jesus Christ to help our brother see the thing he doesn’t want to see?
The usual answers to this question sound like, “Get ’em into Sunday school” or “Preach a better Sermon”. Often, but not always, a brother who doesn’t want to see will skip Bible studies entirely and listen to the Sermon for whatever makes them feel good… And then there are those who attend and pay careful attention to everything, and who can give every right answer… and still not see that they are the opposite! I’ve heard many Ministers give great rote Sunday school answers to this, but I haven’t noticed many who could break through the ‘will not to know’.
The only sure-fire way that I know of to help our brothers in this situation is to get them to begin a regimen of daily prayer, and I’ve had some success in working with people with this method. Yet to be quite honest, it seems that 9 out of 10 will never quite be able to get it started… And to be fair, I guess we all find ourselves being willing not to know in one area or another.
Maybe someone reading this post has better ideas with a track record of results they’d care to share…
One day, all be revealed whether we want to know or not. I grieve for those whose will not to know is so strong that they will miss the eternal blessings that our Lord bought for us by the shedding of His precious blood.