What is hindering your thinking? What preconceived ideas do you have that are keeping you from learning? What if someone revealed a truth in scripture that completely rocked your world? Could you be complacent and not even know it? Does he have to earn your respect before you even begin to approach the scriptures he teaches?
God uses the underdog, the outcasts, and those the rest of the world view as foolish to bring shame to those who think they have it all figured out. Shame is uncomfortable because it brings to your attention the places where you are wrong. If you look at the messenger, who speaks the truth, and counteract that truth with attacks on the character of the messenger, or their phrasing, or their clothing, then you are cutting the ties to the truth based on the flaws of another. Why do you think God uses the unlikely characters to deliver His message? Maybe it is to break you out of the prison of self-reliance. If you cannot consider the idea because of the one who shared the idea, then you’re missing God in the whole process. Truth is truth, no matter how flawed the messenger is.
If you think that your church is better, that your choice of Bible translation is better, that your denomination is better, that your practice of Christianity is better, then it is impossible for you to grow beyond where you already are. What is so disturbing about that is there are any who think they have no growing or learning left to do. They are complacent.
[Jesus] also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous,and treated others with contempt: “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” -Luke 18:9-14 ESV
The first man was content in is righteousness, thinking he had it made and thanking God for it. The other man was fully aware of his shortcomings and knew that he didn’t have it figured out at all. This story makes it clear that the one who can sit back in his easy chair of ‘goodness’ is not what God wants. He wants the one who is fully aware that he has a lot of learning yet to do.
When you hear something that messes up the way you practice your faith and makes you have to really think about what it is you believe, do you reject it? If what another is saying, their teaching of scripture, makes you have to reexamine your preconceived notions and pushes on your pride, do you dismiss it? Are you so grounded in yourself that you are held captive to what grounds you? If you worship doctrine and try to make God fit, then anything that cracks your doctrine open and makes you uncomfortable will be trampled by your pride. What if God is using someone you don’t like to get you to see Him? Can God use flawed people? Saving face becomes the obstacle to growth. Saving face hinders thinking.
Tradition holds back growth. People can sit and talk all day about how things need to change, but change is scary and it is fiercely resisted. Change is terrifying if your faith is in yourself or your religious tradition. Sometimes your faith needs to be rocked so that it can grow. Do you have some growing left to do?
There is social safety in conformity. If you gather enough people around you that hold the same ideas as you, then you do not have to consider anything different. But what if the group of you is missing something? How will you ever know it if you don’t consider and exhaust every possibility? People who are afraid to think end up burning anything that makes them step outside of the box they have carefully constructed. Do you want the truth, or do you want your version of the truth?
Stereotyping is another obstacle in the way of thinking. If someone has hurt you in the past, if they have misled you and you were able to break free from their faulty teaching, anyone who resembles that person gets the undue brunt of your emotional release. If you were spiritually abused in one church by a group of people who delivered strict physiological torment with the use of specific Bible passages, then anyone who uses those passages, even in the correct application, will be dismissed as a fellow abuser. Stereotyping has you ejecting passages of scripture because of an abusive history. What if God wants to redeem His word in your heart? What if He wants to properly plant the truth in you? Is your painful history molding your beliefs in a way that makes you reject His farm hands? Revisiting your past can be painful, but God often brings us back to the broken places so that we can build an alter there. He wants us to put our pain and hurt on the alter, tie it down, and watch it burn. That way, we can walk away with His truth redeemed and free.
There was once a time when you knew that everyone was equal, then time and achievement altered the self-perception and deceived the person into thinking they are better than those who don’t perform as well. Shared benefits of a community working together become rights of passage and benefits become something that have to be earned. Self-deception has a person thinking they are better than the weaker members of their community and the religious community is reduced to an animalistic practice of survival of the fittest.
Are you held back by what you are certain of? If it is anything other that Jesus, who He is and what He did, then the answer is yes. When someone makes you uncomfortable, consider the implications of what they are saying. Ask yourself, “What does this have to do with the finished work of Jesus?”
There are depths of truth unexplored. Paths yet to be cleared. We’ll never get to the bottom of it, but the discovery journey is exhilarating. Are you on a discovery journey or have you built a house on the side of the road? Are you traveling or have you arrived? There is no reason to discourage deep thoughts or dangerous questions. That is, unless you’re afraid that what you hope people believe isn’t actually the truth. Don’t throw out a thought process just because you didn’t like a word, or a person, or a label. God is the Truth and He can withstand the questions and the wrestling thoughts. “You accepting or rejecting the truth doesn’t change the truth, it changes you.” (Grace Is For Sinners)
Are you content with your version of God, or do you want to learn more? Scriptures make more sense when you quit trying to line them up with the god sitting on your mantel.