How Desensitized Are You?
As I write this, my phone is dinging. Breaking news: “At least 12 dead after massive landslide overtakes village in Ecuador.”
Yesterday’s headline: “38 killed in fire in Mexico migrant detention camp.”
Two days ago, breaking news flashed on my screen: “Shooting at Nashville Christian school leaves 3 children and 3 adults dead.”
The day before that: “Deadly storms killed at least 26 people.”
You get the picture . . . and it’s not a pretty one.
Add to that list COVID (which seems to be hanging around like a rude houseguest who doesn’t know when to leave) and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine (which seems to have been pushed aside for fresher news).
We’re left with a steady stream of bad reports, and that’s an understatement. News that goes from bad to worse to disastrous. But these days, many of us are at the point of not even blinking at the unrelenting and never-ending parade of terrible events. There’s just so much—too much—of it to handle. So we don’t handle it. We get to the point of not even wanting to handle it. And finally, we’re so desensitized that we don’t even care.
Desensitization occurs when we are repeatedly exposed to something negative to diminish our response. It’s a useful, intentional, and common practice in disciplines such as allergy treatment. A person interacts with an ingredient or substance in minuscule quantities which are gradually increased until their body no longer reacts.
A Different Kind of Desensitization
On the other hand, desensitization can be an unintentional and negative response on our part when we’re faced with our own sin.
Have you ever cooked meat by searing it? Searing is the process of cooking food at high heat to create a surface crust. So how seared—desensitized—is your conscience and mine?
First Timothy 4:2 speaks of consciences “seared as with a hot iron.” So how do we clear a seared conscience?
- Start with a willingness to agree with God about our sin. The word “confess” literally means to call it what God calls it. In other words, to say the same thing about our sin that God says about it.
- Receive God’s forgiveness in Jesus Christ. First John 1:9 tells us “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
- Take God at His Word when He says, “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).
- Walk in the power of the Holy Spirit, depending on Him daily, hourly, even minute-by-minute for the equipping to live in a way that honors Him.
- And then, as the saying goes, “Wash, rinse, and repeat.”
It takes intentionality to maintain a sensitive spirit despite the continuous reports of tragedy bombarding us. And it takes both intentionality and surrender to the Holy Spirit to remain sensitive to—and on guard against—the presence of sin in our life.
Searing is a great cooking technique in the kitchen. However, when applied to our conscience and relationship with God . . . not so much!