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Itching Ears 02/29/2008

Neville Chamberlain (left) believed his diplomatic skills would bring peace to 1938 Europe.

“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.” (2 Timothy 4:3-4)

Truth is not always comforting. It disrupts the status quo. It forces problem solving. It requires strength, wisdom and resolve to know how to respond.

From the beginning, mankind has had a tendency to avoid difficult truth. We want to run from conflict, deny our nakedness and put our heads in the sand. The result is the elevation of personalities that make us feel good about ourselves, regardless of the truth. This happens in all areas of life: spiritually, socially, politically and economically.

Ministers of a “feel good” religion that ignores sin and its devastating consequences populate our pulpits. Pop stars that provide an escape from reality receive wealth and adoration. Politicians that promise hope through empty words garner our votes. People eagerly get swept up in a cult of personality when some charismatic figure tells them what they want to hear while ignoring the harsh reality of the world in which we live.

But messages that soothe our itching ears do more damage than good. The security they provide is false. Even worse, it’s dangerous. Consider the words of British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain in 1938 after signing the Munich Agreement:

“We regard the agreement signed last night and the Anglo-German Naval Agreement as symbolic of the desire of our two peoples never to go to war with one another again.

“We are resolved that the method of consultation shall be the method adopted to deal with any other questions that may concern our two countries, and we are determined to continue our efforts to remove possible sources of difference, and thus to contribute to assure the peace of Europe.

“My good friends, for the second time in our history, a British Prime Minister has returned from Germany bringing peace with honour. I believe it is peace for our time. Go home and get a nice quiet sleep.”

Chamberlain’s words were met with enthusiastic applause from the crowd. He had told them exactly what they wanted to hear while ignoring the wisdom of others and Hitler’s record of violent words and aggressive actions. Bloodshed and suffering soon followed on a massive scale and Britain was not spared.

Is it possible that we are now setting the stage for a similar assumption regarding the Muslim terrorists who have declared war on democracy, freedom and non-believers? When leaders in the west tell us that we have nothing to fear or that we simply need more dialogue with those who vow to kill us, how much faith should we put in them? We need not fear discussion, even with our enemies, but we must not be so naïve as to believe that eloquent words are powerful enough to dissuade a murderous heart.

The Old Testament prophet Jeremiah warned against those who deal falsely, crying, “Peace, peace!” when there is no peace. The violations occurring against innocent people worldwide cannot be glossed over with smooth words. They must be met with a sober eye and a firm commitment to pursue justice.

Evil intentions (or even good intentions that are misguided) cannot be engaged with jovial compromise. False ideas and lies must be defeated. Darkness cannot coexist with light, so the light of truth, however unpleasant, must be shined from the local church to the halls of Congress.

Certainly, we can debate truth. But words must used as a scalpel to cut away the rot, not as a bandage to hide a festering wound. This can be done with genuine love for those with whom we differ and with no attempt to label and nullify those who disagree. But we must no longer settle for rhetoric that tickles our ears. We must engage in and insist upon truth, no matter how difficult it is.

Author: James Robison

Word Count: 671

About the author: James Robison is the founder and president of LIFE Outreach International, a Christian media ministry and mission relief organization. He and his wife, Betty, host of the television program Life Today; He has authored numerous books, including The Absolutes: Freedom's Only Hope and True Prosperity.

Media Contact: Randy Robison, editor at . Photo available upon request. Reprint rights granted with attribution for complete, unedited article. Revisions allowed only with approval.