Friday, October 3, 2014

Change your mind





This is one of my favorite Gospel stories. And I think it's because when I was a child I tended to be the defiant one in the family. My parents and I can still laugh about it today, because Jimmy and I, my younger brother, were really close, and so we did a lot of things together. We often got in trouble together.





Whenever we would have some punishment that I didn't think was fair or some horrible thing my parents were making us do, I would always argue it to the hilt and say, "I'm not going doing that." And I would be defiant and just tell them I wasn't going to do it until I had a good explanation. And so, I'd battle, a war would break out because of that. In the end, I would do it. I would do whatever I had to do if I understood why.





Yet Jimmy, my younger brother, who never caused any trouble, would always, when given a punishment or given something to go do, would always say, "Yeah, I'll do it," and he never would. But my parents, I don't think, cared because he never put up a fight. He just said, "Sure, I'll do it, no big deal," and they forgot all about it. So I feel a little bit of redemption here, you know, because it's the first son that changed his mind and changed his ways that is the one that got to eternal life.





The truth is, though, it's hard to change our minds. Changing our minds, especially if we can be stubborn or bullheaded, can be a very difficult thing to do. So what does it sound like when you do change your mind?




Seth Godin who is one of the founders of the internet, he's an American author, entrepreneur, marketer, public speaker, writes a story about the beginning days of the internet.





"Nineteen years ago, shortly after I hired Mark Hurst to join the team at my internet startup group, I turned to him and said, 'I don't think the web makes sense.' This was the most expensive mistake I ever made.





"At the time, we were working on AOL, CompuServe and other online services. The web was in its infancy, and I notoriously said, 'It's just like the Prodigy, but slower and no business model.





"It took me eighteen months to change my mind. Actually, that's not true. It took me about five minutes to change my mind, after eighteen months of being wrong. I still remember how it felt to feel that flip switch in my head.





"This is one of the assets of youth, and something that's worth seeking out and maintaining. That flip, the ability, when confronted with a world that doesn't match the world in your head, to say, 'Wait, maybe I was wrong.' We're not good at that. Science brings us overwhelming data about the truth of washing hands before surgery, of the age and origin of species, about the efficacy of placebos, and the natural instinct is push those facts away, rather than find that moment where were can shift our thinking.





"If you needed to, could you argue passionately for that thing you don't believe in today? Could you imagine walking over to the other side of the new argument, to once again hear that sound?





"That's the essential skill of thriving in a world that's changing fast."





Malcolm Gladwell, who is an author, he wrote some books you might have heard of called the "Tipping Point" and "Outliers." He writes on this whole idea of change and how difficult it is for us to change, and how change can actually be perceived as being a flaw. And he actually commented -- and now, just to let you know, he's extremely liberal, a wonderful author, but he's just very liberal on that side. He writes about Mitt Romney and the time where Mitt was running for the election, and he had changed his mind on an issue. He changed his platform on universal health care. And actually, Gladwell will go on to say that Mitt Romney got so criticized for flip-flopping, as many labeled him, and for changing his mind on an idea after he had more evidence. He said he was crucified by the Democrats and the Republicans because he changed his mind.





And the truth is we all kind of do that. We expect people to be solid on what their thoughts and solid on what their platforms are and solid on what they're thinking, and while there is a value to that, there is also a value to changing our minds when we have new information, when we have a greater revelation.





And so he looks back and he says that though Mitt was made fun of -- there's actually flip-flops that you can get that say "Mitt" on one side and "Romney" on the other. Though he was made fun of and criticized, he thinks all of that was done extremely unfairly because this man gained new information and changed his mind, and rather than seeing that as something virtuous and good, it was condemned and vilified.





And sometimes we do this with ourselves. Sometimes we get caught in a mindset and we argue something, or we wrestle with something that we know deep down isn't right, it's not truth, but for some reason we feel like we have to cling to the argument, like we have to win the argument.





I can just picture a husband and wife arguing over something, or good friends arguing over something, and at some point in the conversation you start to realize you're wrong, but for some reason we feel like we have to keep arguing it further and try to make ourselves right, even though deep down inside we know that we are wrong.





But what if we could just actually change our minds? What if we could actually just admit that we are wrong, and given new information, we can adapt our minds and actually change our minds to this new information?





And we hear about this in the Gospel today. The Gospel is about the two brothers. The first sentence, as I said before, obviously when asked by his father to do something, he said, "No, I will not." But later changed and went and did it. The older son said, 'Yes, sir,' but did not go." And Jesus asked, "Which of the two did the father's will?" And they all answered, "The first." Then Jesus goes on to say, "Amen, I say to you. Tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God before you." Why? Well, because the Jews that he was speaking to were locked in an old mindset. They couldn't see right before them that Jesus was God. They couldn't see this revelation, this prophecy that John was trying to point people to the Christ, who was in our presence. And the tax collectors and the prostitutes, through their forgiveness of sins, through their looking and being loved by Jesus through this encounter with Jesus, have a change in their minds. They can grasp who he is.





But the last line, I love the last line of the Gospel because it says, "Yet even when you saw that, you did not later change your minds and believe him." So Jesus is saying, even when you saw, you know, that these people were getting it and you weren't, you did not change your mind and believe in him. And you could see they were stuck in their mindset. They couldn't change their mind.





I always try to think of an image or an idea or a story to tell, or a song. And as I was praying about this and just thinking about this all week for the homily, this song came to mind from ABBA, actually. And the first line of the song is, "You can change your mind."





Anybody know the name of it?





It's "Take a Chance on Me." So I'm just going to read you the first verse and we're going to listen to a little bit of the song. But it goes, "If you change your mind, I'm the first in line."





Now, instead of ABBA singing this to you, I want you to think about the Father. Think about the Father singing this to you, God, the Father, who loves you saying:





If you change your mind, I'm the first in line

Honey I'm still free

Take a chance on me

If you need me, let me know, gonna be around

If you've got no place to go, if you're feeling down

If you're all alone when the pretty birds have flown

Honey I'm still free

Take a chance on me

Gonna do my very best and it ain't no lie

If you put me to the test, if you let me try

Take a chance on me

Take a chance on me





(Playing the song)





So we hear in this kind of lighthearted song how God is inviting us to change our minds. So I just want you to think about that for yourself. Are you stuck in any mentality of God or of the church teachings or of commandments? Is there anything that you've just set yourself against and you don't want to change your mind about it, even though deep down you know you might need to? Maybe you still have the old mentality of God, the Father, being this stern discipline, you know, just kind of like scary figure.





Well, you know, revelation has shown us, Jesus has shown us, that we have a loving Father. And maybe you've been taught all your life that he's not, that you can change your mind, and you can come to this revelation, this insight that God is such a loving and gentle Father and all He wants to do is be with you.





Maybe there is some church teaching that your heart -- your head has gotten so set on what you believe, and maybe you disagree with the church teaching, and deep down inside you know you're wrong, but you've just argued for so long you can't imagine changing your platform. Well, you can. You can change your mind and be open to revelation and church teaching.





Maybe it's something at home. Maybe it's something superfluous with your wife or member of family and maybe it's an ongoing argument and you know you've been wrong. Maybe it's a rift in the family deep down for 15, 20 years, and you know you are wrong. You can change your mind. And we do this by taking a chance to God. You can take a chance, take a chance, take a chance, take a chance, take a chance, take a chance on God. Change your mind and experience this new way of living.



Get it here! 

(Playing the song)



"Take A Chance On Me"
If you change your mind, I'm the first in line
Honey I'm still free
Take a chance on me
If you need me, let me know, gonna be around
If you've got no place to go, if you're feeling down
If you're all alone when the pretty birds have flown
Honey I'm still free
Take a chance on me
Gonna do my very best and it ain't no lie
If you put me to the test, if you let me try


Take a chance on me
(That's all I ask of you honey)
Take a chance on me


We can go dancing, we can go walking, as long as we're together
Listen to some music, maybe just talking, get to know you better
'Cos you know I've got
So much that I wanna do, when I dream I'm alone with you
It's magic
You want me to leave it there, afraid of a love affair
But I think you know
That I can't let go


If you change your mind, I'm the first in line
Honey I'm still free
Take a chance on me
If you need me, let me know, gonna be around
If you've got no place to go, if you're feeling down
If you're all alone when the pretty birds have flown
Honey I'm still free
Take a chance on me
Gonna do my very best and it ain't no lie
If you put me to the test, if you let me try


Take a chance on me
(Come on, give me a break will you?)
Take a chance on me
Oh you can take your time baby, I'm in no hurry, know I'm gonna get you
You don't wanna hurt me, baby don't worry, I ain't gonna let you
Let me tell you now
My love is strong enough to last when things are rough
It's magic
You say that I waste my time but I can't get you off my mind
No I can't let go
'Cos I love you so


If you change your mind, I'm the first in line
Honey I'm still free
Take a chance on me
If you need me, let me know, gonna be around
If you've got no place to go, if you're feeling down
If you're all alone when the pretty birds have flown
Honey I'm still free
Take a chance on me
Gonna do my very best, baby can't you see
Gotta put me to the test, take a chance on me
(Take a chance, take a chance, take a chance on me)


Ba ba ba ba baa, ba ba ba ba baa
Honey I'm still free
Take a chance on me
Gonna do my very best, baby can't you see
Gotta put me to the test, take a chance on me
(Take a chance, take a chance, take a chance on me)


Ba ba ba ba baa, ba ba ba ba baa ba-ba
Honey I'm still free
Take a chance on me


[fade]

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