Are we a conditioned society? Are we being conditioned to act, react, believe and trust in things, people and agencies who have no real interest in our, well, best interests? In many ways, the answer is yes.
We just had a wonderful Fourth of July. Wow what a parade! Lander knows how to do it right. From our Police Chief leading the way to the fire trucks soaking down the kids, it was great. I took hundreds of pictures.
I enjoy watching people. How they act, what they do and why they do it are interesting. For instance, during the parade Main Street was cordoned off. No traffic is allowed, people are free to roam. Most people walking on the street naturally tend to hug the side of the street even when they know traffic is prohibited. People also still tend to look both ways before they cross the street. I have even caught myself doing it.
What really made me think about this issue was an event that can be best described as “The blueberry incident.” I found a blueberry smeared on my forearm after returning from visiting some folks that afternoon. I had talked to my wife, met three people, talked to four or five others, visited a number of establishments, talked with cashiers, patrons and others. I counted at least four people who engaged me in discourse. Further, though I am not Italian I am an arms and hands talker. No one told me about my blueberry “issue.” I knew when I had handled blueberries that morning. I knew when I shared them with children in our daycare. I know what time it was when I noticed the blue streak and what time I had to have acquired said blue streak. Many of the individuals I visited with were friends and closer acquaintances. They knew I would not be embarrassed had they said,
“Ah, I don’t know how to tell you this but, well, ummm, you have a blue streak running down your forearm.”
Is it that hard? Are we so conditioned to fear others feelings through the foolishness of political tolerance that we would not tell even those we love, “Hey Tim (Bob, Sue, Mary, Mr. Schmuckatelly), did you know you smeared a blueberry on your arm?”
I know, you’re going to say we should mind our own business. We should take the position that if Tim wants that blueberry on his arm, well that is his business not ours. In that mindset lies the problem. First, does Tim even know he has a blueberry “issue.” Second, what if that blueberry were poisonous? Do we just leave it?
Those who are preaching tolerance with “mind your own business” and “don’t legislate my bedroom” are doing those very things. They are in your bedroom by demanding acceptance of their own business. Ultimately, those who preach tolerance don’t want tolerance, they want promotion and celebration. The definition for the tolerance movement includes the statement, “to nourish, sustain or preserve.” Nourishing something you don’t believe in is not “tolerating,” that is supporting, assenting, agreeing and promoting. We are being conditioned to “nourish, sustain or preserve” the things you do not agree with.
Take it a step further, God calls sodomy, homosexuality and lesbianism sin (Leviticus 20:13; Romans 1:26-27). It disqualifies you for entrance into heaven (Revelation 21:8 (whoremongers)). What people cannot stand is facing that they might be wrong. Christians have already admitted they have problems, that’s why they know they need Jesus. I know those are not popular things to say. I know there is growing acceptance of all kinds of sin from lying and adultery to tattoos (Leviticus 19:28), sin is growing in popularity. We are being conditioned to accept sin as a norm. Note, no where in this did I say to hate the people who commit such sins. Only that the sin itself is not acceptable to God. The reason people are militantly against those committing the sin is their own problem and they can probably rightly be called homophobic. Equally, it is a problem when homosexuals are militant and demand we conform to them and they should accept they are heterophobic. Be careful not to label one term pejorative without giving equal credit for the polemic of the other.
Conditioning has led many to great misconceptions about the Bible, church and worship. People make these mistakes because they do not read the scriptures. They listen to other’s opinions and ideas. They make decisions from catch phrases, quotes out of context, cliché sound bites, false teachings or biased revisions in the historic record. Most of the false teachings come from other false teachers (Colossians 2:8; 2 Timothy 4:3). Misquotes, improper applications or misinterpretation of anything can condition people and societies improperly. The phrase, “separation of church and state,” has been erroneously quoted as part of our constitution by repeated use. (Repeat a lie often enough it becomes the truth.)
Conditioning has twisted the Bible, church and worship to become about the individual in the same way (me-ism). Ralpf Waldo Emerson said, “Trust thyself” in his book “Self-Reliance” which became a rallying cry for individualism (me-ism). We think, “What programs do they have for my kids?” “Do I like the music?” “Am I going to enjoy my time there?” Many believe everything must cater to a personal need to warrant their patronage in the pew. “What’s in it for me?” Imagine if Jesus said that before He went to the cross. Ouch.
Another form of conditioning is our independent western mentality. Many believe you do not have to belong to a church. “The word “membership” is not in the Bible,” they say. “You can worship God on your own.” Truth mixed with error makes a powerful potion. Yes, you should have personal devotion, and prayer times. Your relationship with Jesus is personal. However, the Bible nowhere teaches isolation either individually or as a family. The preponderance of scripture talks about bodies of believers, churches, gatherings, fellowships, groups, encouragement and self-sacrifice for others. There are 50 (or more depending on how you count them) one another commands in scripture. They include love one another (1 John 4:11), edify one another (Romans 14), exhort and encourage one another (Hebrews 3:13; 10:25), stimulate one another to love and good works (Hebrews 10:24) and pray for one another (James 5:16). The toughest commands of all are to humble (1 Peter 3:8) and submit to one another (Ephesians 5:21). (I’m glad I read that book on how to love prickly people!) The obvious question is how can anyone claiming Christ exercise these commands in isolation. The Bible teaches relationships not isolationism. It teaches focus on Jesus Christ, God the Father and the Holy Spirit not on self.
The Christian should be “conditioned” by scripture not manipulated by cliché. False teachers and weak leaders avert conversations by pointing back to you and asking, “How do you feel about that?” Spiritual leadership says, “What does the Bible say about that.”
The Bible is our handbook. If it sounds appealing to us personally, check the handbook. We are prone to the deeds “of the flesh.” (Romans 8:5). Do not let people condition you to think about “me-ism.” Seek God’s word, the Holy Bible, for the proper conditioning.
 Juanita Purcell, How can I Love Those Prickly People (Regular Baptist Press: Schaumburg, 1995).