I still remember the day I realized I didn’t believe the Bible. Oh, I know, lots of people don’t believe the Bible. But I’ve been involved in church since before I was born. I’m a missionary kid. I put my trust in Christ when I was six. So the realization hit me like an 18-wheeler.
I was in the passenger seat, riding down a country road with a couple of college friends, lost in thought. Suddenly, I turned to my friends and said, “I don’t really believe the Bible.”
For fear my friend might drive off the road, I hastened to explain: “Don’t worry, I know the Bible’s true. And I want to believe it. But when I look at my beliefs, what I really think about God, about myself, about the world…well, I don’t think those beliefs come from the Bible. They come from things I was taught in Sunday School, or things my parents said, sometimes things I’ve read. And I’ve accepted them as true. But what if they aren’t?”
Although I’ve made progress, I still find this to be the case in my life at times. Even Protestant churches are permeated with belief in tradition over Scripture.
You’ve probably heard of the Jews in Berea, the ones who “received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things [Paul’s and Silas’s teachings] were so.” (Acts 17:11).
They were commended for looking into the Scriptures themselves (and by the way, they did it every day).
We frequently hold up these Jews as an example, explaining that we shouldn’t blindly accept a Bible teacher’s word. The truth is, though, we need to examine our own beliefs in the light of Scripture as well. We need to be willing to admit that we could be wrong. It could be that “the way we’ve always done it” isn’t the way God has always done it.
In Lamentations 3:40, Jeremiah exhorts the people of Israel (who were judged on multiple occasions for trying to worship and serve God their way rather than God’s way). He says, “Let us test and examine our ways, and return to the LORD.” (ESV)
And here’s the part where I step on your toes (I’ll do it as gently as I can).
We can be pretty dogmatic about what kind of songs we sing in our worship service. What kind of clothes we should wear. Whether or not the pastor gives an invitation. Whether we should speak in tongues and prophesy. What kind of school our kids go to. Who we vote for. What kind of cars we drive. How we treat people of different ethnicities. Whether or not to give handouts to beggars.
Every single one of those issues matters and is worth taking a stand on. And the Bible speaks to every single one of those issues. I want to base my stand on what the Bible says, not on “what I’ve always done” or even on “what I feel comfortable with.”
The Christian life is a life of repentance and grace. We repent. God gives grace. Over and over again. There’s no shame in realizing we’ve been wrong about something. And we will all be wrong about something.
When Scripture corrects us, let’s be quick to re-align our ways with God’s.
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