Faith Matters: Changing Your Mind

Pastor Shawn Hannon
Contributing Writer Pastor Shawn Hannon

This year’s debates have certainly entered some unchartered territory. The presidential debate turned into a middle school yelling match and the star of the vice president debate turned out to be fly. It proved yet again that nothing 2020 is full of surprises.

But as surprising as the debates were, I am certain of at least one thing: Very few people changed their minds. Now, if you were one of the people honestly on the fence, I apologize. But know this, you are mostly alone. More than any other election in my lifetime at least, people know who they are voting for and no debates are going to change that.

In fact, someone I follow on Facebook recently posted that exact sentiment (only his words were too colorful for this). Just trust me when I say the things he said wouldn’t change his mind should have been enough.

And that’s the point: they should be enough. His post then was a prideful boast that nothing could change his mind, but it left me asking if that is really such a good thing? Is it a faithful thing?

One of the things that scripture repeatedly calls us to is a thing called repentance. We often think of it as turning around. The actual Greek word is metaneo, and it means changing your mind. For the Christian, an unwillingness to change isn’t a good thing, but anti-gospel.

Jesus told the Pharisees a parable about a man with two sons. The man asked both to go work the field. The first said, “Yes,” but failed to go. The second said, “No,” but later changed his mind and went. Jesus asked, “Who did the will of the father?” The answer was clear (even to the Pharisees). Jesus responded to the Pharisees that tax collectors and prostitutes would enter heaven ahead of them for even after they saw God at work they would not “change their minds and believe.” (Matthew 21).

Are you willing to change your mind? Politically or personally. Are you willing to change your mind? I’m afraid too often the answer is no. We are certain we have it all figured out and we pride ourselves on our stubbornness. But the truth is that each of us are flawed, and that means that so are some of our opinions.

Forget the election, everyone knows who they want. But more than that, pay attention to the things you believe and reflect on them. Hold them to light. Listen to others. And in the end remember that changing your mind isn’t weakness, it’s repentance. And it’s faithful.

(Part 2: Remember It’s Changing Your Mind, Not Everyone Else’s)

For more inspiration and insights from Pastor Scott and Pastor Shawn’s past columns, please visit www.jamestowngazette.com and click on the Faith Matters page. The Jamestown Gazette is proud to present our county’s most creative and original writers for your enjoyment and enlightenment.

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Pastor Shawn Hannon
Pastor Shawn is a 2010 graduate of the Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary in Columbia, South Carolina, and he began his call at Hope Lutheran Church, Arcade NY that summer. While he spent four years learning and serving churches in South and North Carolina, as a Jamestown, NY native, Western New York has always been home. He is glad to be here. Pastor Shawn and his wife Carol Hannon met while attending SUNY Geneseo in the mid-2000s. They have enjoyed making their home together in Arcade with their daughters Quinn and Perry.   Pastor Shawn has a background in youth and outdoor ministry. He is a former camper and staff person at Lake Chautauqua Lutheran Center in Bemus Point, NY. He has also served camps in urban settings and oversees in Madagascar. In seminary he was recognized for gifts in Greek and New Testament, and in his senior year was recognized with awards in both Preaching and Biblical Studies. Pastor Shawn continues to emphasize the youth in his ministry, but not simply because they are the future church, but because they are the church of today.  He also enjoys working on service projects, and takes the role of planning meaningful and engaging worship seriously.  He loves helping people find ways to put their passion and energy to work making their community and other people’s worlds a better place. When he is not working at church, Shawn enjoys remodeling and construction projects around his family’s home.  But as busy as he gets, PS always has time for a quick nine (okay, 18) on the golf course. He enjoys playing sports of all kinds and fiddling with his guitar.