A guide for Christians
Thousands of voices come at us every day with competing messages: Forget the law, you’re under grace. If you’re not following the law, you’re not following Jesus. Name it and claim it. Don’t trust the prosperity gospel. Vote Republican. Vote Democrat. Don’t vote at all. Yada yada.
Who’s telling the truth?
It’s easier than ever to be deceived, and to head off in a direction that God does not want us to take. Let me suggest four principles to guide us back to truth.
(1) Know your Bible
This is important, and it cannot be delegated to someone else. The Bible is God’s road map to truth. You need to know your Bible. That means reading it from cover to cover, not just once, but again and again throughout your life.
Here’s how I do it: I downloaded the Bible on audio to my phone. I play that audio all night. As I’m falling asleep, I’m listening to scripture. As I wake up and get ready for my day, I’m listening to the Bible. It’s not uncommon for me to listen to 10, 20, 30 or more chapters in a night. This gives me the big picture. When someone comes along claiming that a verse supports their crazy ideas, I’m better able to evaluate whether that passage in its context is really saying what that person claims it’s saying.
That’s one approach. There are many others. If you need help getting into the Bible, contact me. I have great resources for you.
(2) Ask God for wisdom
God is eager to give wisdom to His kids. All you need to do is ask. Hopefully, you’re developing a close relationship with Jesus where you’re able to discern His guidance in your life. How do you know if your wisdom is coming from God? Here’s a verse that might help: “But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.” James 3:17 NIV
Keep in mind that wisdom comes from obedience. When we disobey what God has clearly revealed to us that He wants us to do, we block any further wisdom from Him. The house of wisdom cannot be built on a foundation of disobedience. This is one reason why some otherwise very intelligent people come up with outlandish ideas—they’re building on the wrong foundation.
(3) Pay attention to history
Biblical, church and secular history has much to teach us if we’re willing to pay attention. The new heresies are recycled versions of the old ones. There’s nothing new under the sun. Philosopher George Santayana famously said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
(4) Examine the fruit
Jesus said that we can tell a tree by its fruit. If someone is walking in the truth, then their lives should be producing more and more love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. Read Galatians 5 or the Sermon on Mount in Matthew 5-7. A person who walks in the truth should be living a righteous life. If they aren’t, then it’s time to look elsewhere for guidance.
PS. Would you join me to build a new empowering community? The Alternative Church is a Google+ community open to all but designed particularly for those who have stepped away from traditional church. Our culture is respect. Our aim is to move from a sermon-centered event to an empowering community. My prayer is that you will find friends, inspiration and a safe place to process your spiritual journey. https://plus.google.com/communities/115133641096267494030 (You need to be logged into a Google account to access.)
Photo credit: Adapted from a Creative Commons Flickr photo by Taras Kalapun