I Believe What I Prefer
. . . They refused to love the truth and so be saved. Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12
During my early (and unsuccessful) attempts to find a lasting recovery, I went to AA, hearing the stories of those who’d found it. I was told I must accept that I had a problem that only God could solve. I could believe that. Then, however, I was told what it would take to surrender myself to him: get a sponsor, work the 12 steps, go to meetings, and keep pursuing faith and recovery for the rest of my life. That was too much. I could do that stuff for a while, but like a diet, I eventually wanted to go back to my normal life of following me. So, despite significant evidence that they were right, I chose to believe they were wrong. I don’t need to do all that stuff to stop using. I rejected the truth because I preferred the lie.
I went back to living my way which turned out predictably. I relapsed over and over until the consequences of my disastrous path beat me into submission. I finally relented, accepting that I needed to radically change my life, for the rest of my life. I initially didn’t like the truth, so I rejected it. That didn’t change reality though, it just revealed my painful stupidity.
In today’s passage, Paul spoke of those who rejected God because his way was the opposite of their way. They wanted to live only according to their appetites and so they abandoned anything that told them this was wrong. They believed not according to any objective truth but rather allowed their truth to be determined by their desires. Paul said they may have their way for a time, but in following their appetite instead of the truth, they ultimately chose self-destruction.
This can still be a challenge for us, even though we claim faith in God. We can say we believe in him while rejecting the parts of him we don’t like. I can’t believe in a God who says ______. So, we find a god that fits our preferences. Maybe we don’t like the idea of hell. Maybe we don’t like the rule of sex only in marriage. Maybe we don’t want to help the poor. There are difficult teachings in the Bible that we dislike. So, often we simply abandon those parts, making our own pretend god.
Truth is truth though, not because we like it. It just is. Pretending something isn’t true isn’t helpful, it just reveals our self-centeredness and eventually leads us to misery.