I do not like The Wizard of Oz. I’m a huge fan of Wicked, but the classic movie did nothing but give me all sorts of nightmares. We would watch it every year when it came on TV and every year I would cover my eyes any time a monkey or witch flew across the screen.
The Wizard himself was pretty scary, but he didn’t give me any nightmares once I realized he was just an old man behind the curtain. “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain” is one of the most iconic lines in movie history and has earned a spot in our culture as a popular colloquialism.
I often treat my conscience like the Wizard, shoving it behind a curtain and hoping that it will go unnoticed. I’ve been following Jesus most of my life, so I’m really clear about what’s right and wrong. There are some areas of my life where I really do need to stop and discern God’s will, but for the overwhelming majority of choices in my life I know what’s right and wrong.
So even when I want to sin, when I want to go against God’s will for my life, I have that stupid voice telling me that what I’m doing is wrong. It’s really difficult to plan out an evening of sin and rebellion when I have a voice constantly reminding me that what I’m planning is wrong. And even when I want to, I can’t shut that voice up; it’s always there. So if I can’t quiet that voice down, the least I can do is hide it away.
I turn my conscience into the man behind the curtain. I may have all sorts of thoughts enter my head, thoughts that I know shouldn’t be there, but I try to keep them from noticing the man behind the curtain.
Does anyone else do mental gymnastics like this?
I know what’s right. I know what’s wrong. And somehow I want to keep that knowledge of right and wrong from interacting with the impulses that are leading me to sin. I usher Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Lion and the Tin Man into my mind, hoping that they’ll throw some sinful party without noticing the man behind that curtain who will put a stop to all of their fun. But Toto’s always there, pulling the curtain back and revealing my knowledge of what’s right and wrong.
More often than not God’s word plays the role of Toto in my life. The Bible reminds me of what I know and why it’s better for me to choose what’s right over what’s easy. So even though there’s a part of me that wants to hide my conscience behind the curtain, God’s word helps me keep it front and center. My conscience may not be great and powerful, but God is, so I’ll trust in him instead.