I like different. Non-conformity is good. I live for going against the grain.
That’s all great, but don’t do it in a vacuum.
A year ago, I began attending a very unique church. While they believe the basic Gospel message, they have a unique view of many other aspects of the Bible. They also have a unique way of studying the Bible – they actually look at each book of the Bible in context and in its original language. Since I tend to be more logical than emotional when it comes to faith, this approach was highly attractive to me.
If you’ve read my blog post, The Simple Gospel, you know that, eventually, this attraction faded. I began to get lost in the details and forgot about what Jesus did for me. Shouldn’t I just go back to the basics and forget the details for a while?
Not so fast. Don’t I like different? Isn’t non-conformity good? Do I not live for going against the grain of emotional theology? I wanted details and in-depth teaching, and that’s what I got so what was my problem?
The problem was, I didn’t ask enough questions. I passively sat there every Sunday soaking in the teaching without ever bothering to study the Bible myself – perhaps this, not the details, was why I forgot about Jesus’ love for me.
While studying the Bible on my own was an overwhelming prospect, I had the resources to do it. All I had to do was reach out and ask for advice on how to study scripture in context.
But I never did. Trusting someone to teach you something one-on-one can be scary. What if they aren’t gentle in their approach? What if – like Christians in my past – they try to shove their beliefs down my throat? In my mind, one-on-one is a setting for brainwashing; sitting in church blindly accepting teaching is not brainwashing. Go figure.
I can now see the error in my thinking. I can’t judge how someone will treat me one-on-one unless I get to know them. Just because they seem intimidating, doesn’t mean they are. I have to give them a chance, and if for some reason I have a bad impression of them, I should ask clarifying questions to clear up any misunderstanding.
Trusting people to teach you can open you up to a wealth of knowledge and experience that wouldn’t otherwise be available to you. If they walk you through their reasoning, you won’t be brainwashed; you will be more empowered to make an informed decision.
The alternative is trusting only myself and never letting anyone teach me. The thought of such isolation and narrow-mindedness scares me. It scares me even more than one-on-one conversations about controversial topics.
The next time I decide to go against the grain, I’m going to do it logically, not blindly. I’m going to seek guidance . . . from people, imperfect though they may be.
“The Lord is for me; I will not fear; What can man do to me?” Psalm 118:6
Man can’t make me believe anything I do not choose to believe. He can only share his reasoning.