Sometimes I tend to be a little naïve and a tad gullible. This is particularly true when people catch me at the right time. Occasionally, I’m in the presence of someone who has my full trust (at least on the topic upon which they’re expounding) and I get caught napping—mentally speaking. Consequently, I get sucked in. As the old saying goes, “I fall for it: hook, line and sinker.”
Usually, that’s okay. It’s okay because they are simply having a little joke at my expense. I don’t mind laughing at myself and my naivete once in a while. It actually keeps me on my toes. Most of the time, however, I prefer to be on my game—alert and ready.
“My Frontal Lobotomy”
I was recently at a retirement seminar for wayward pastors when I heard one of the presenters make this statement. “They caught me in a moment when I hadn’t had my frontal lobotomy yet.” This remark drew thunderous laughter from many of us old geezers because we knew exactly what he was talking about.
I forget his topic, but the comment will stick with me for a long time. You have to be clear minded to recognize its meaning, but if you think about it, it hits you where you live. Sometimes we walk around like we’ve had a frontal lobotomy. During those times, we can be had.
In one of his letters to Timothy, the Apostle Paul warns us about people who walk around looking for us gullible types. He states that people do that because they love themselves way too much. They tend to love money, be ungrateful, treacherous, unforgiving, and pleasure seeking (just to name some of their (ahem) attributes).
“We’ve Never Learned the Truth”
Then he gives us a strong suggestion as to why we fall for the wiles of such people. He implies that we’re always on the lookout for some “new” teaching—something that will be sensational, sound good, and make us feel spiritual. The other side of that coin may even be the larger problem. He says that we fall for the fake stuff because we’ve never really learned the truth.
I remember someone once told me the following about a guy in the congregation to which I belonged. He said, “That guy has just enough religion to be dangerous.” He was right. The man of whom he spoke was always off following some new teacher or religious fad. His biggest problem was that he had never been grounded in the faith. He didn’t know or understand the reality of his orthodox groundings. He was vulnerable to “every wind of doctrine” as the Apostle Paul wrote to the Ephesian church (Ephesians 4:14).
Jesus, himself, warned us to be “alert.” He knew there would come a time when many would seek after teachers that would lead them off the narrow path to one that would take them to who knows what. Hopefully, when these guys come around, it will be prior to our having had our frontal lobotomies.
[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and currently resides in Aldie, VA.]