This is the verdict: Light has come into the world but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. John 3:19-20 (NIV)
Jesus blames unbelief on moral defection. As cockroaches scurry for darkness when a light is turned on, men reject Christ because they do not want their lifestyle exposed for what it really is. Too often we're like the smoker who explains `I read so much about how cigarette smoking leads to cancer, I gave up reading'.
Are there other reasons for unbelief? Perhaps there are. Sometimes the light doesn't shine brightly. What a person learns about Christ may have been taught in the context of other beliefs that are now rejected as absurd. The mind may not be willing to sort through these false beliefs to keep the true God. We toss out the gift with the wrapping paper. At other times a student may be ambushed by philosophers who start without God, reasoning him out of existence. When the student cannot answer the arguments, he may give up God. Francis Bacon understood the danger when he wrote: `A little philosophy inclineth a man's mind to atheism'.Granted that many factors contribute to unbelief, what about Jesus' assertion that our unbelief springs from a moral root? That takes some honest self-examination. John Calvin pointed out that our thought processes, even when we believe we are being objective, are controlled by our desires. Freud added a second to this and went on to describe the process. Evidently we repress our less rational evil desires and confine them to the cellars of our minds so that they may escape scrutiny. In that way our house may seem to be in order and our thinking has the appearance of straightforwardness. We are convinced and try to convince others that our conclusions have been arrived at without determined bias.
Jesus declares, however, that the mind reasons from reasons it does not reason with. Unbelief may not be rational at all. Part of the reason that men and women do not find God, he says, is that they do not want to find him, any more than a thief wants to find a policeman. One basic reason that we do not hear Christ speak is that he may be saying things we do not wish to hear. Or, in our selfishness and sin, we may fashion a concept of God with which we are comfortable; and if we discover that God is not there, we may choose to believe that no God exists at all.
A student listened to the claims of Christ and seemed deeply impressed, but he would not respond to faith. When pressed about his refusal, he shrugged: `Look, I can give you a bunch of reasons that sound good, but the fact is Jesus would upset my sex life'. While Christ might have wept at his choice, he would have commended the integrity of his answer. We often do not believe because we do not want to believe.
Lord, help us to be honest in what we think, in what
we believe and in what we say we believe.
Further reading: Jn 3:16-21, 8:12.