July 6, 2017
When you start attending a church with a completely different background than what you are used to, something uncomfortable and wonderful happens. Many of the things you just “know” to be true get challenged. It’s amazing how much of our belief about God and how to live the Christian life comes from the culture of our church instead of the Word of God.
My husband and I were both raised in Pentecostal and nondenominational churches, but when we moved to Northwest Iowa two years ago we felt led to start attending a traditional Reformed church. I have several beliefs about God that have been challenged through this church move. Honestly, when those beliefs were first challenged, my response was one of defensiveness. I would become annoyed and a little angry when the topic would come up. The thought would go through my mind, “How could you believe that about God? Don’t you know the scriptures say…”
Recently I was sitting in church and one of these challenging topics came up again. I was all set to listen to what my pastor was saying and poke holes in his theology when the Holy Spirit whispered to me, “See the truth, not the holes.” His words hit me like a ton of bricks. I was so primed to see the errors that I was completely missing out on the beautiful truth of what my pastor was saying.
As I pondered the Holy Spirit’s words to me the following week, I couldn’t help thinking about all the moves of God through the history of Christianity. If you study church history like the work of the Reformers and others, almost all moves of God came about to correct some misunderstanding or corruption of the Church. God, in His love and mercy, shows someone a truth in scripture that has been neglected or twisted and then that truth spreads like wildfire through those that are seeking to know who God is.
But we are corrupt human beings and often the truth of God, so beautiful to begin with, gets corrupted. Usually what happens is that the truth revealed gets elevated above all other truth and so other parts of scripture get neglected or twisted. Then a new revelation of truth must come to bring balance and the cycle starts again.
God is a big God. There are so many aspects of His personality and character that are beyond our grasp. He is so big that no one person or denomination can contain all the truth about God. And so He reveals Himself in bits and pieces. One bit to this person another bit to that denomination. Then we take our bit and believe that it is the only truth about God, or maybe we don’t go that far and we just believe that our bit of truth is the MOST IMPORTANT truth about God.
So where does the cycle end? What can we do? I think the first step is to put aside our defensiveness and do what the Holy Spirit whispered to me. Let’s look for the truth in others’ theology even when it does not seem to fully match up with our own. Let’s look for the common ground. Paul tells Timothy that quarreling about words has no value at all. We need to quit quarreling to correctly handle the “word of truth.”
2 Timothy 2:14-15 – Keep reminding God’s people of these things. Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen. Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.
Setting aside our own beliefs and listening to others may seem like we could be opening the door to false beliefs, but we don’t have to be afraid or concerned that listening to others will corrupt our own beliefs. When we search out truth, the Holy Spirit will lead us. Anything that is not of God can be quickly disclosed and rejected.
John 16:13 – But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. (NASB)
The best way to be guided by the Holy Spirit into all truth is to get into the Word of God. Let’s take the time to study and seek out what the Word of God says….to abide in it. Then we will know the truth.
John 8:31-32 – Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (NKJV)
Let’s quit being defensive and start listening to others, searching the scriptures for the truth. Then we will be able to grow in our understanding of God. The holes in our own theology will be filled and we will be able to see and know the BIG God we serve.
Above all, let this be our prayer…
Psalm 25:4-5 – Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.