I’m coming up on 10 years living in Delaware, and it still seems like the big city to me (my small, family farm was a 30-minute drive to the nearest Walmart and 60 minutes to Starbucks). One of the things I miss about my rural community was the idea that, if I wanted to know what someone thought, I would just ask them. In smaller communities, we were forced to be more kind to each other because the guy you had a conflict with today might be the same guy that pulls you out of the ditch tomorrow.
One of the sad realities I’ve noticed about a larger community like Delaware is, though there is much more convenience (I live where I can literally walk to Walmart passing by a Starbucks as I walk), we often don’t talk to each other about the things that matter. Often, we choose to engage instead in “mind reading.” I will define mind reading as convincing yourself that you know exactly what the other person is thinking … when you don’t. This, my friends, is crazy.
This mind reading happens in politics more often than not, but the most recent example that comes to mind from the news is all the flap about Joe Rogan. I’ve listened to a few episodes of his podcast, “The Joe Rogan Experience” (when he’s had a guest on that I’ve been interested in), and often times the conversations can be fascinating. I absolutely don’t agree with everything that’s said, but I am not expected to. I am simply hearing thoughts and opinions from interesting people.
I find it fascinating to learn how other people think and process life. However, to listen to the mainstream media talk, you would think that Mr. Rogan is a racist and spreader of misinformation, and he’s doing all this on purpose. Mr. Rogan claims to be the exact opposite of a racist, and he seems to be on a pursuit to find the truth. His life seems to back that up. So, he was subjected to about a week of a sustained effort to get him cancelled because of mind reading. Not good.
Why not good? Because this is just one more way for lies to propagate in our world. Person A says something. Person B mind reads what Person A was thinking when they said what they said, and Person B has a platform and blasts out his mind-reading analysis to the world. Whatever portion of the public considers Person B credible now adopts the mind-reading view as reality and cannot differentiate between reality (what Person A actually said) and fantasy (what Person B mind read about what Person A said). See what I’m saying?
Unfortunately, God is not immune from human attempts to read His mind. Let me be clear, God has given us hundreds of pages of text in the Bible. In 2 Peter 1:3, we are told that God has given us everything we need for life and godliness. God has made Himself clear on everything we need to live in a way that is good for us and pleasing to Him. Yet, people have the audacity to take what God has said and set it aside or reinterpret it, saying, “A good God would do this…”, or, “A loving God would to that…” This mind reading is applied to the definition of marriage, the sanctity of human life, human sexuality, gender identity, and a host of other topics we deal with daily.
But, you see, when you ignore what someone has said and choose to engage in mind reading, you can make the person say whatever you want. In the same way, when we try to mind read God instead of listening to what He has clearly said, we choose to only hear the words that we have put in God’s mouth. This is not the pathway to freedom (John 8:32).
Rev. Scott Tiede is senior pastor of Delaware Bible Church.