I want you to ask yourself the question, “Who is at the center of my beliefs?” I think that for most of us there is a temptation to put ourselves in that place. This question is vitally important since it will determine if our perspective of God is accurate or not. All of us have a tendency to filter our understanding of God’s Word through our existing perspective which distorts God and the truth that He has communicated.
Two weeks ago we launched a new sermon series, “A New You” which focuses on salvation. The scope of the series is not just a Gospel presentation even though the message of Jesus will be presented. It is a study focused on understanding the Gospel in greater detail. If you are interested you can listen here.
I am thankful for several Godly men that took me under their wings as a new Christian. It was not long that I was growing in my understanding of God and His Word. Naturally I adopted their views on the Scripture. The result was a particular bias was formed on how I understood certain aspects. Now the vast majority of these “biases” were consistent with a literal understanding of the Bible. The danger of these bias resulted in a lack of openness to what the Bible actually says. It became easy to lay my grid of belief over the truth in God’s Word rather than letting God’s Word define my belief or my grid of understanding. The danger was I was not aware this was happening until I started to study to be a Pastor. It was then that I was challenged to understand my biases (something that all of us have) and take them into consideration as I studied. This would allow me to see if my bias was blinding me to truth that I was missing.
I can say that this approach has allowed me to mature as a follower of Jesus. Yes, some of my beliefs have changed while others have been strengthened. There are several areas where I have become less dogmatic and others where I have become more dogmatic. The end result is my faith has been challenged and grown. I have also come to a deeper appreciation for the truth of God and the privilege of knowing Him.
Now to quote the Apostle Paul, “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.” (Philippians 3:12) But I have gained insight by coming to the Bible with an open mind and letting it define my beliefs.
Psalm 55 reminds us that God’s ways are above ours, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8–9) We are reminded that we are not in the same league as God. This has allowed me to accept what God has revealed even when two aspects appear to contradict. It reminds me that I am a finite being while God is infinite. It challenges me to avoid the temptation to read my feelings, beliefs, and opinions into what God has communicated. It pushes me to let God be God and out of the “god box” that I try to keep him in.
So who is at the center of your beliefs? And what are you missing because of your bias?
-Pastor Joe Parkinson