Our choir rehearsed the music over and over. We learned the tune, learned the lyrics, and even learned some dynamics. It was a lot of work, and the piece was moving, fun, and unforgettable. So unforgettable, in fact, that we could not get that music out of our brains until we started serious work on the next piece. What do you call a song that you enjoy, maybe even love, but can’t get out of your head? An earworm. An earworm that won’t let go, but continues to tickle your ears until displaced by something else.
What else tickles your ears, figuratively speaking? Things we like to hear, over and over, whether it is music, a child saying, “I love you,” or words of sorely needed affirmation. Not everything that tickles our ears is so positive, though. In fact, some of it can be risky, even dangerous.
II Timothy 4:3-4 warns, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.” Paul was warning Timothy about people turning away from God’s truth to embrace whatever made them feel good, and it rings true now just as it rang true then.
We see people everywhere who prefer their own truth. Maybe we do it, too. We choose news sources that tell us what we want to hear, fact checkers that echo our preferred version of reality, and conversations that reinforce our personal values and perceptions. A risky thing, and one that can become even more dangerous when it involves God’s truth. We may know some of God’s truth, but what if we try to keep that truth nailed shut in a box made of our own ideas and opinions? A dangerous business, trying to keep God in a box.
We all have blind spots when it comes to our own version of truth, but how do we know what they are? Well, that’s the problem with blind spots: they hide where we can’t (or won’t) see them. Then how do we replace our flawed understanding with the real truth? In the case of news media, fact checkers, or conversations, we need to relentlessly seek the truth by sifting and comparing information, digging into facts, and doing our own research. Worthwhile, but steady, lifelong work.
When it comes to matters of eternal value, our blind spots are like earworms: they have to be forcibly displaced, and we can’t do it by our own efforts. I have very good news, though. In John 8:31-32 Jesus says, ““If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” God already did the heavy lifting for us. He gives us His truth, found in Jesus and His word. Please don’t try to keep it in a box!
One thought on “Tickling our Ears”
Self constructs serve the purpose of making us feel good about ourselves even though we are sinners and want the world we live in to paint us as saints. As much as it pains me when people are dishonest about the words and acts of others, I cannot begins to imagine how much it may hurt a forgiving God when His words are misrepresented by those wanting to identify their acts as honest and moralistic. If a person truly believes in the love and grace of his Triune God, how can he freely live contrary to the Word of God. Bonhoffer called it “cheap grace.”