"...we cannot deny it."
"Everyone in Jerusalem knows that this extraordinary miracle has been performed by them, and we cannot deny it." (Acts 4:16)
I saw the family standing on the bridge over the small stream and heard one of them exclaim, "Look, there's a snake in the water." Joining them on the bridge I discovered, sure enough, there was a snake periodically poking its head above the water and changing positions in between. Then someone pointed out the frog a few feet away from the snake and noted that the snake was trying to sneak up on the unsuspecting frog. I readied my camera to catch "the catch." Just then, the family decided to move on. One little girl lagged behind long enough to throw a stick in the water and say, "I don't want the frog to be eaten for dinner." In a flash, both predator and prey disappeared. I'm sure the little girl slept a little better that evening knowing the snake didn't eat the frog (at least while she was around).
Sometimes denial that keeps certain things out of our active consciousness serves a healthy purpose. Most of us probably get into our cars each day without contemplating the hundreds of deaths that occur from auto accidents that very same day. I would call that a form of denial. Our awareness of auto tragedies stays buried deeply enough in our consciousness to allow us to travel comfortably in our cars and deny that anything bad will happen to us. Too much awareness of the dangers could make us anxious enough that we might be more susceptible to getting ourselves and others into auto accidents. Sometimes denial works for our good.
However, many times we use denial in an unhealthy way. We attempt to deny things that might challenge us to look at ourselves and recognize the need for change. The power of God's love at work in Jesus and later in his disciples often challenged folks to change hurtful ways of relating to one another. Sometimes the presence of God's love evoked efforts to deny the call to change. Such was the case in the story from Acts when God's love worked through Peter to heal a lame beggar and the miracle caused the ruling Council to want to deny it. The Council desperately wanted to avoid the change that God's love in Christ was demanding of them. They wanted to deny the miracle but knew that would bring even more trouble. "Everyone in Jerusalem knows that this extraordinary miracle has been performed by them, and we cannot deny it."
When we deny the reality that we may be doing something harmful to ourselves or others the result is always the same. The hurt grows like an invasive cancer until it squeezes the life from the individual or relationship. God's love in Christ challenges us to change hurtful behaviors. Denial will only make things worse. I pray that God will challenge me with his love and strengthen me to avoid the temptation to hide in denial. How about you?
Blessings and Peace,
Pastor, Sand Hill United Methodist Church
Boaz, West Virginia
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