Working With Jell-O
By Tom Wacaster
Senator John Boehner used this analogy some months back when referring to attempts to “negotiate” with the President and his staff in matters concerning the economy, taxes, and balancing the budget. More precisely the Speaker of the House pointed out, “Dealing with them the last couple months has been like dealing with Jell-o,” Boehner said. “Some days it’s firmer than others. Sometimes it’s like they’ve left it out over night.” I have been preaching for almost four decades now, and I can attest to the frustration that comes with trying to reason with folks in a logical, analytical manner. Some folks simply cannot be taught; not because they are incapable of receiving the facts, but because they have become so close-minded that the truth cannot penetrate their thick skull. Pride and selfishness play an important role in hardening the heart and closing the mind to truth. It is even possible for a person to so harden his heart that he no longer loves the truth (2 Thess. 2:10). When a man reaches that point in his life, “God sendeth them a working of error, that they should believe a lie: that they all might be judged who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (2 Thess. 2:11-12). Frankly, that frightens me!
I used to say that reasoning with some folks is like trying to wrestle with an octopus – about the time you get hold of one arm in an attempt to tie the creature down, another one grabs you from an altogether different direction. Liberalism has a way of avoiding truth while making you think it is addressing the issue. Politicians are good at this. If you have some time to waste, tune in to CNN or C-SPAN and listen to the news conferences with any of our leading politicians on any issue whatsoever. Try to pin a politician down on any issue and you will quickly learn that it really is like trying to work with Jell-O. You might take a moment to tune in to one of many talk show programs. It is astounding how a liberal can call in, be asked a simple “yes” or “no” question by the host, and in an attempt to answer the question actually avoid the question all together! Every attempt to press the point of the discussion is like – well, like working with Jell-O!
Liberals in politics have their counterpart in the sphere of religion. Trying to reason with purveyors of false doctrine is like working with Jell-O; you can’t pin them down on any single issue, and simple “yes” or “no” questions are avoided like the plague! I have had opportunity to conduct two public debates in more than forty years of preaching. One thing I have learned from those debates is the inability (or unwillingness) of my opponent to stay with the subject. It is like working with Jell-O, and most of the time it is Jell-O it its liquefied state! Reason flies out the window, emotion takes hold of the disputant, and you end up chasing rabbits more than addressing the subject at hand. It can be frustrating!
This week I had the opportunity to discuss a religious matter with someone I met while eating breakfast at Whataburger. I have learned from practical experience that “arguing” with someone over a religious topic accomplishes little. So, when I come across a prospective student, I attempt to get an appointment to come into their home and have an open Bible study. This will provide opportunity for the student to see what the Bible teaches, rather than listen to what I might think on the matter. On this particular occasion I asked the question, “Why do you suppose there are so many strange churches popping up everywhere?” Rather than address my question, he took the same kind of approach a politician might take on a sticky issue, and commenced to discuss how his fiancé has some really “weird” ideas about religion. When I asked him what might motivate a person to pursue such radical and far-fetched ideas, he asked if I believed in prophets today. Attempting to keep him on the subject and move toward an in-home Bible study, I asked if he would like to see what the Bible had to say on the matter. He changed the subject again – this time he wanted to discuss the unreasonableness of some women when it comes to having a normal conversation on husband and wife responsibilities. I felt like I was trying to work with Jell-O. It was difficult (if not impossible) to pin him down on any single point, and our conversation ended with an invitation to visit our worship assembly or public Bible study opportunities. As expected, there was no definite commitment, but the typical response, “I might just do that someday!” “Someday” – but then that’s a topic for another discussion.
Some weeks back I watched a portion of Walt Disney’s “Alice In Wonderland.” It reminded me, in an amusing way, of how illogical some folks can be. Some years ago Jefferson Airplane produced a song titled, “White Rabbit” – a definite reference to Alice in Wonderland and the complete lack of logic demonstrated in the story. The last stanza of the song is thought provoking:
“When logic and proportion
Have fallen sloppy dead
And the White Knight is talking backwards
And the Red Queen's "off with her head!"
Remember what the dormouse said;
‘Keep YOUR HEAD’”
Next time you are in a discussion with someone who cannot seem to stay on the subject, “keep your head,” and remember – trying to reason with some people is like working with Jell-O!