Have you ever been absolutely chock full of yourself about something only to find out later that you were actually dead wrong? Amber makes fun of me all the time for this about celebrities. Apparently I have a complete inability to recognize actors/actresses in different roles. We'll be trying to figure out who was in such and such a movie and I will be absolutely sure that it was the same person who played in the other such and such a movie. And I will argue until I'm blue in the face that it is this person...until I finally actually look it up and have to crawl back to her and admit again that I'm pretty ignorant when it comes to pop culture!
But what about when it's something a little more serious that someone tells you is different than what you've always believed to be true? What if someone tells you something about God or God's will for man and it is completely different than what you and your parents and your grandparents and your preacher have always believed and known to be true?
When that happens...how do you respond?
I know my natural inclination is to argue. I set out to prove that I'm right. I've believed this all my life and a lot of other people that I really really respect have believed this all of theirs. It must be right and whatever you say that contradicts it must be wrong!
You know, I kind of think that was part of the hang up with the Jews about Christianity. Paul came into town and completely contradicted everything they had always believed about the Messiah. He contradicted their preachers and their parents. He boldly proclaimed that the path to the Father was not through the Law, it was by grace through faith in Jesus the Christ.
This upset some of the religious leaders so badly that they chased Paul out of towns and even followed him to the next town to make sure they didn't buy into the "heresy" that Paul was preaching. But Luke records an incredible- and sadly a relatively rare- characteristic about the people of Berea. They were of "noble character"- I read that "honest enough"- to consider that maybe they didn't have all the answers...but they knew exactly where to look. In the word of God.
Not only did they not take what they had always believed to be true to be God's absolute truth, they didn't take what the Jewish leaders had always told them. And they didn't take what Paul was telling them either! They went to the scriptures for themselves to see what was true and what wasn't! What a beautiful and freeing attitude toward seeking truth! And do you know what the glorious result was?
As a result, many of them believed!
I said earlier, that Luke's description of them being noble enough to search the scriptures for themselves was a rare thing. And I'm sad to say that I believe it still is. I beg my teens in class on a regular basis to study the scriptures for themselves. I beg them to not even take what I'm telling them as truth until they search it and decide whether what I'm teaching is valid. Why? Because I'm trying to deceive them and I have some cockimamey scheme up my sleeve to lead them into falsehood? NO! I want to see them all in heaven....but I've been wrong every once in a while about my Bible facts and my Bible interpretation!
I know for a fact that there are some things that I see differently today than I did a decade ago because of studying some of my previous beliefs in a little more detail. I feel pretty confident that in another decade, there will likely be a thing or two more that I have come to understand more fully or more correctly because I have continued to study.
But here's the deal....
what if someone tells you the absolute truth and you accept it. What if everything I teach about and I write about is 100% accurate and my students and readers accept it blindly. Have they accepted truth? Yes they have. But has it changed their life???? Not likely.
Paul told the truth when he went to Thessalonica. Some accepted it but most did not because they wanted to keep believing what they already believed. He also told the truth in Berea. More eagerly received the message in Berea because it was great news! But great news can sometimes be incorrect news. So they searched it for themselves.
and as a result, many of them believed.
I think that line is significant. Because biblical belief is more than just acknowledgment of the truth. It's trust that the truth should guide every aspect of my life...trust to the point of radical obedience to it.
May we be believers...not because of the convenience or comfort of the message...not because of the persuasiveness of the speaker...not because of the compulsions of tradition and history. May we be believers who truly live the gospel because we have searched it for ourselves and become true believers.
May we be noble.