A thought occurred to me during a church service a few weeks ago. It was on how easy it is to miss great opportunities because they don’t match our expectations. Great opportunities sometimes come disguised and don’t always have great packaging. It was the story of Jesus and the religious authorities of his time that got me thinking about the human tendency to miss disguised opportunities because of our biases.
Our biases are perception filters. We ‘see’ the world through their lenses. They distort our vision of reality as we are more likely to see and seek confirmatory evidence that match our worldview than those that disprove it. This is why we are resistant to anything that challenges our worldview.
Jesus didn’t fit the image of the messiah that the Jewish religious leaders expected hence their reason for rejecting him. Their biases prevented them from accepting him despite the miracles they witnessed him perform. Even the testimonial support from the general public was not enough to convince them.
They believed that the messiah would look like them, think like them, talk like them and act like them but Jesus was completely different from them. He was uneducated (not trained in one of the religious schools), he was from Galilee not Jerusalem, he had a modest background (carpenter’s son) and he preached acceptance of everyone not discrimination against non-Jews.
They expected the messiah to preserve the status quo but Jesus was a maverick. He threatened the status quo. To accept Jesus meant a paradigm (worldview) shift and they were not prepared to change their paradigm. He was just too different. They experienced what is referred to as a cognitive dissonance in psychology. This is the feeling of discomfort that occurs when an individual holds two conflicting beliefs. This discrepancy in beliefs demands a quick resolution in order to eliminate the discomfort. Killing Jesus was their way of eliminating the discomfort of cognitive dissonance.
What opportunities or individuals have you dismissed or ignored because they didn’t fit your worldview or paradigm?