The following is taken from a note from a friend. It is an example of how the Lord opens our eyes to the confusion and fog cast by those who claim to be fine Christians but aren’t. Let me define “cognitive dissonance” for those of you who may not be familiar with the term. Or rather, let’s call on good old Wikipedia for a definition:
In the field of psychology, cognitive dissonance is the mental discomfort (psychological stress) experienced by a person who holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values. This discomfort is triggered by a situation in which a person’s belief clashes with new evidence perceived by the person. When confronted with facts that contradict beliefs, ideals, and values, people will find a way to resolve the contradiction to reduce their discomfort.
In other words, for the genuine Christian in a local church, the contradictory beliefs are 1) The claim of those around me that they are also real regenerate people, but 2) Their attitudes and behaviors do not square with the Bible’s statements about who a real Christian is. Therefore I have this stress, this tension in myself which I try to resolve. And the way we usually resolve it until we understand what the truth really is, is to assume that my observations and judgments either about the people or about Scripture, must be wrong.
Now, here is what my friend said:
At times it has been an almost crushing weight of truth to realize that people (many people) are not who they portray themselves to be. You’ve probably heard of the term cognitive dissonance – our mind’s attempt to mesh together opposing beliefs or values into something that makes sense for our reality. That term probably sums up for me much of the last 25 years of my life. My husband was not who I thought, members of my family, practically my entire church – none were who I thought them to be- and in ripping away the veil which had shrouded those people, it’s as though God ripped away a bigger, wider veil. He has shown by so many examples that the majority of people who call themselves believers and attend church are fakes. It’s been shocking and incredibly painful.
Yet truly God has been kind at the same time by also bringing a few wonderful, genuine believers to come alongside us, and for us to bear their burdens in return. What He has made more clear to me is that there really is an ultimate and continual conflict between good and evil – there always has been since the Garden. It’s everywhere and all around us and yet I didn’t see it, not really, not like this, until the evil of my husband and my church was exposed.
But as G.K.Beale says [in his commentary on Revelation] there is a remnant. A small part which faithfully maintains its witness, thanks be to God. This is also what I had begun to feel as the dust settled a little and I looked around. There are those who truly and sincerely love God and want to please and obey Him. They’re real. We may be scattered, but we’re never too far apart, never without hope and encouragement. God never fails to give it.
And there you have it. The cognitive dissonance created by hypocrites and the shocking yet refreshing experience that comes to us when the Lord takes away the veil, opens our eyes to reality, and sets us free of the enemy’s deceptions.