The world is made up of so many different varieties of people. Even in the world of Christendom, the number of differences is astounding.
And we all tend to think we’re right. But the trouble is that we all wear glasses. And they’re all different shades. We have all lived different lives, had different upbringings, read different books, hold different beliefs, have different physical bents, and all these things cause us to form assumptions about the world, about others, and about God. And the difficulty is that these things affect the way in which we approach the Bible. Now we’d all like to think that despite these glasses, we can come together and read and interpret the Scriptures and hear the same thing. Sounds great. But does it work that way? It can but more often than not, it doesn’t.
There are two different trains of thought in Christianity
Actually there are more but these are two foundational biggies
1. There are those who believe that human beings repent and believe because God causes them to do so by choosing them to be saved.
2. And there are others who believe that the ultimate reason people believe is our free will.
This fundamental and basic belief about God and our belief will affect the way we go about our daily business. Sounds simplistic but it is true. If you are of the latter view then it is quite likely that you and I will disagree on many other points in life. And vice versa.
Many people simply cannot get over this fact- that there are differing beliefs. In fact it prevents them from discussing theology with anyone who shares a different view or it causes them to shout instead of talk, yell instead of listening. But I actually like discussing issues with those who share a different view, so long as the discussion is respectful and polite. If I wanted to read and learn without too much questioning or hearing other points of view then I’d read a book. But to participate in discussions and online forums means that there will be disagreements and they will be verbalised.
After a few years of inserting my foot in my mouth I am seeing how much I cut conversations off or I diss people, although that is not my intent.
I have changed and am continuing to change though. I used to be a lot more rigid. Some might say intolerant and un-accepting. But I’ve realised that just as much as my mind is not going to be changed by an online discussion, my argument is not likely to make someone else change their mind either. Discussions provide fodder and there’s always the possibility that a seed will germinate (Grammarians may feel free to ignore that yucky sentence) but minds are rarely changed in that environment. In fact, some people may even go into battle- losing sight of the discussion but focusing upon having the last word or ‘winning’. Time has a wonderful way of revealing things to us. It is a rare discussion that does not benefit from the value of time. It’s okay to take a breathe.
I’m not becoming liberal, post modern or emergent… just listening more. I want to understand others and their viewpoints. I accept that we don’t all look at the elephant in the room from the same angle. It’s okay Susan… stop. Breathe in. Breathe out. It’s not my job to convince Christian evolutionists that they are wrong. I can now sleep well at night- despite the fact that others are wrong. (Feeble attempt at humour)
Here’s my new list of ideals… for myself
- not use words like ‘basic’, ‘simple’, ‘plain’ and ‘easy’ when referring to an ancient book, which has been written in a completely different time, language and culture.
- remember that it’s okay to admit that I don’t know. I don’t have all the answers. I don’t have all my ducks in a row
I will not:
- use the Bible as a sword or a weapon. The Bible is likened to a sword but I don’t have to pick it up and stab you with it.
- question your commitment to God just because you have a different belief to me
- use God’s word as a discussion ender, rather as a conversation continue-er
Lord, please give me your grace. For I need it so.