Philip said, “Master, show us the Father; then we’ll be content.”

John chapter 14, verse 8; from The Message

We husbands are often accused of “selective hearing” by our wives. Know what? They are right and we are guilty! Admitting one has a problem is the first step in recovery. But I’m not orating today about husbands and selective hearing. Nay! I want us to take a serious look at what I call “selective seeing”.

Look at this morning’s passage. Remember the context! Jesus has been preparing them for his upcoming and intentional death. Jesus told them he was about to go back to see Dad and that they would know the way to where He was going to be! Thomas’ opening salvo was that they didn’t know the way. Jesus tries to explain this simple principle when Philip adds his two-cents worth: “Master, show us the Father; then we’ll be content.” Both men were suffering from what is known as Confirmation Bias!

According to Wikipedia, Confirmation bias is the tendency to search for, interpret, favor, and recall information in a way that confirms or supports one’s prior beliefs or values.” Here’s the common sense definition: “It’s seeing what we want to see and ignoring what we don’t want to see!” When these 12 guys started following Jesus as a student, each had their view of what The Messiah should look like. After 3 years one would think that they’ve began learning about the true Messiah, not the one of their imaginations. Alas, it seems like Philip didn’t read all the memos that Jesus had been sending. Philip was looking for what Philip was looking for; but not for what Jesus was showing him.

And before we get too harsh on Philip, what about us? Do we tend to see situations, people, and even the Bible with Confirmation Bias? Any book, any teaching, can and IS subject to Confirmation Bias! Even The Bible. Just recently I was reading a blog where the author was talking about Jesus’ parable about the praying of a Pharisee and the praying of a Tax Collector (Luke chapter 18). This particular writer is of the more progressive theology group. He fixated on verse 14 that tells of both of them going home. He chose a single Greek word as his fixation (Confirmation Bias)–par which can be translated as with. He said that this meant that both the Pharisee and the Tax Collector left together as friends. That each one changed their opinion about the other and accepted each other.

When we look into the Bible WITH Confirmation Bias we will find exactly what we are looking for, but not what God is saying. One doesn’t have to be progressive or orthodox, liberal or conservative, to be afflicted with Confirmation Bias. Confirmation Bias, or Selective Seeing, can and does happen to everyone. It can be intentional. AND it can be unintentional. Don’t read the Bible to find things that support your views! Nay, my friends! Open your heart. Open your mind. Allow God to be God and see what HE is showing you. Don’t see what you want to see. See what God is really saying. If our Tribe, the United Methodist, had been doing this all along instead of Selective Seeing, then we wouldn’t be in the mess we are now.