3Jesus said, “What I’m about to tell you is true. You need to change and become like little children. If you don’t, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4Anyone who takes the humble position of this child is the most important in the kingdom of heaven. 5Anyone who welcomes a little child like this one in my name welcomes me.” Matthew 18:3-4
In 2012 Libb and I attended our niece’s wedding in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania and afterwards, enjoyed some US history as we travelled through Pennsylvanian Amish country, Washington DC, and New York before attending an education conference in Boston Massachusetts. At the conference, one of the presenters spoke about social media and how it uses algorithms to tailor its responses to our preferences so that the information we see fits our likes and dislikes more accurately over time. Gradually we start to see only the things we want to see, the things that confirm our preferred way of looking at the world, the things that confirm our long-held assumptions and prejudices. No longer do we see things ‘as they are’, but begin seeing our world ‘as we are’!
The term ‘confirmation bias’ is used in psychology for this phenomenon. Our brain uses this ‘confirmation bias’ to be efficient. It quickly analyses new information and if it fits with what we already know or our brain decides is convenient for us, it accepts it and if not, it is rejected! We eagerly follow the narrative that feels right to us and connects us with what we already understand and what is already in our mind. The more this is challenged as it sometimes needs to be, the more likely we are to dig our heels in and hold these ideas even more firmly than before.
Jesus got around this barrier when presenting his new commandment and his revolutionary message of salvation, through the use of story. Stories help to break down our defences so we can, in a reassuring way, see the world from a new perspective and slowly a small crack begins to appear in our armour of ‘confirmation bias’. A small beam of light shines through this small crack and illuminates the world in a way we have never seen before and in so doing, brings us a step closer to having the fertile mind of a child that Jesus mentions in Matthew 18. Not a mind that is simple and immature, but a mind that honestly admits it doesn’t know everything and willingly opens up to new possibilities, new ideas and new ways of seeing things.
Grant me O Lord, the beginner’s mind of a child.
Learning Leader: Formation
Adapted from: https://cac.org/category/daily-meditations/2021/03