The Refining

My Facebook and Twitter feeds have been abuzz (and that’s putting it mildly) with posts and counter-posts and counter-counter-posts regarding a number of current issues facing Christians. I’ve watched debates rage about courtship/dating/betrothal, the patriarchy movement, and Mark Driscoll stepping down from Mars Hill Church, to name just a few. And as I stand on the outside looking in, I see a problem:

Those whose beliefs are being scrutinized seem to see no room for God’s direction to be that they might be in error.

I’m not saying they need to change. I’m not even saying any side of the 14 or so out there is the right one. But what I’m very, very concerned about is the lack of humility and soul-searching in this process of refinement.

What if we (myself included) looked at a scrutiny, or (dare I say) criticism, of our beliefs as God telling us it’s time to check up on that. Why do I believe this? Where did I get it? Is my conclusion found in the Bible? Is this stuff the other guy is saying in the Bible? Are either of us getting this from Scripture?

A further thought, since the big issues I’m seeing debated right now seem to be linked largely to three men who have stepped away from ministry in disgrace: Might we consider what is happening with these men a wake-up call? If you were a follower of a Christian leader who has been found in sin, think back on places in the Bible where God removed men (or women) from places of prominence in the church. In several places, a warning is issued that the teaching of the man to be removed is false and needs to be repented of. (Try Revelation 2:12-29 for starters.) This is a perfect time to examine carefully what these men taught while in ministry. Was it from Scripture?

So, I propose a path forward. When another viewpoint pops into your news feed that challenges what you believe, do some thinking and searching before you respond. Pray specifically that God will show you if you are the one who needs to change. Search the Scriptures to find if your brother (or sister) is speaking the truth. Be humble. Don’t take offense. Be willing to let God teach you through this refining process.

The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue. Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. Many of them therefore believed, with not a few Greek women of high standing as well as men. (Acts 17:10-12, ESV)

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