“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” – Aristotle
This is where I would like to begin. What we believe and why. Do we believe what we believe because it is true, or do we believe because we have been taught to believe? There are numerous examples of this throughout life. For instance, if you were raised in the State of Alabama and are a football fan, you are probably either a die-hard University of Alabama fan or a die-hard Auburn fan. Depending on which household you grew up in, will depend which team you root for with reckless abandon. This loyalty is passed down generation to generation.
If you were raised in an Episcopal household, there is a high probability you will be Episcopalian. If you were raised in a Methodist household, there is high probability you will be Methodist. If you were raised in a Baptist household there is a high probability you will be Baptist. If you were raised in a Catholic household there is a high probability you will be Catholic; and so on and so forth.
Each of these faiths uses the Bible as their guidebook. Yet each faith has a different set of doctrines and beliefs. I am not implying one faith is more accurate or true than the other; that is not the purpose here. However, what I am saying is those faiths are very different. Yet each believer fervently believes they are right and in most cases perhaps even closer to God. I am challenging us to briefly set aside what we have been taught. To temporarily leave what is our spiritual comfort zone and look at things from a different perspective and determine what we believe the truth to be for ourselves.
There was a time when a ship sailing on a body of water and reached the horizon, it was not only assumed but sincerely believed it fell off the face of the earth because the earth was flat. We now look back and think the people who held that belief were not very smart. But in fact, that vast majority of individuals living at that time believed it to be true.
I remember growing up in the South in the 60’s. It was a turbulent time. Civil rights was a heated issue. Many churches were involved on both sides of the debate. Many churches would not let those of different races enter into their worship services. People were beaten and/or killed simply because of the color of their skin. Now in the 21st century we look back and say that behavior was WRONG. When we read of something like that happening now we are appalled and righteously enraged. The question I want to pose here is when did the rules change? Was it RIGHT back then and WRONG now? Or was it always WRONG? Did people continue holding on to the belief that Black Americans were inferior simply because the beliefs were passed down from generation to generation or did they seek out what God said?
God is never changing. He is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). So who was it that missed the truth? Of course, it was the humans. Why? Because a choice was made to believe the status quo and stay in the comfort zone of the time. Humans took a few scriptures and interpreted them in such a way to make them mean what they wanted them to say, rather than investigate and believe what the Bible really said about the issue.
Isn’t it time we examined what we believe and why? In this day and age of such hot button topics and great divides in the country not only politically, but spiritually, is it not of paramount importance that we sincerely search our hearts and ask God for direction, guidance and wisdom. With hate spewing from every side, Christian and non-Christian alike, is it not time we searched and investigated what really is consistent with the character of God? What is consistent with the character of Jesus? Did Jesus Christ come to this earth, die for us and rise from the dead, to give us the freedom to beat and bloody each other in His name? I believe not.
I realize it takes courage to break your belief system down and examine it part by part. It takes even greater courage to admit perhaps you had a thing or two wrong. But in the final analysis it matters not what man says, not what the preacher or priest says, not what the Pope says, not what momma and daddy always told me, but what does God say. It is far better to recognize an honestly, non-malicious, skewed belief, than to keep beating Children of God over the head with our misconceptions and false truths because we do not have the courage to re-evaluate our beliefs and ask God for direction and wisdom.
If you find in your self-evaluation you were wrong, and most of us are wrong about something, then let’s pray we have the courage to adopt the truth and let that truth, in fact, set us free. (Malachi 3:6; John 8:32)