Let’s say I’m hungry, so I pick up a salad for lunch. I’m watching my diet (what with the New Year and all), so of course, I pick the “heart-healthy” selection.
It looks great and tastes even better. (After all, if it didn’t, it wouldn’t sell!). It’s really a hodge-podge of all kinds of ingredients. There’s a lot of rich dressing and croutons to keep me interested, but just enough lettuce and tomato (and maybe some organic seeds) to make its “healthy” label sound legit.
But I’m curious, so I go online and look up the portion size and nutritional information. I note the calories, fat and carb. content, even the amount of sugar and fiber per serving. What am I doing? I am analyzing my salad against a trustworthy source of information on the food itself. I am checking the facts against the claims of the product.
In my last post, we read about the Bereans, who were just as careful to scrutinize their spiritual diet as I was in my salad illustration. They heard Paul’s teaching, then examined the scriptures every day to check out the truth of his claims and teaching. They are described as “noble-minded” because they were eager yet cautious in what they accepted as truth.
Ok, now you may be thinking, “Why is that so important/ Isn’t there good in everything?” In response, I’d have to say that there are at least three reasons why being discerning is so important:
– Our own sinful desires – Being spiritually discerning does not come naturally, simply due to our bent towards comfort, ease, and self-edification. We can easily believe an interpretation because it is exactly what we want to hear. (2 Tim. 4:3)
– Satan’s opposition – The enemy is a great deceiver. He uses his influence in the world to divide and tempt the church. (Eph. 6:11)
– Worldly influence – Paul constantly warned of false teachers that infiltrated the church and continue to do so to this day. What is tricky is a lot of false teaching can have a seed of truth, then goes off on a tangent. The message is repeated so many times, to so many people, that it no longer has anything to do with the original meaning. Unless we are humble and careful, we find ourselves at the mercy of the waves of popular opinion. (Eph. 4:14)
In my next post, I’ll share some of the methods and resources I use as I read and study scripture, but for now, I leave you with some questions to bear in mind, (along with scripture references) as you listen to your church leadership and teachings:
1) Who is being glorified in worship? Is it anything or anyone other than Jesus Christ?
2) Is worship based on subjective experience or is it focused on the word of God?
3) Is worship being shaped by the culture, or is the culture being shaped by worship?
4) Is the full gospel being taught? That is, do you hear of the bad news of sin and need for salvation, as well as the good news of Christ’s redemption?
5) Is there a mixing of ideologies, such as psychology, thought programming, or self-help, rather than focusing on the root problem of man’s separation from God? Like the hodge-podge salad, is there a sense that “anything goes”? These are tough questions, but if we stay diligent and true to the purity of the word of God, we can stop being “tossed about” and start standing in truth.