What Kind of Shades Are You Wearing?
Examples of common misconceptions:
- Sushi-raw fish: no,although raw fish is sometimes used, “sushi” actually refers to the way the rice is prepared.
- Turkey causes sleepiness .
- most body heat lost through head: people have recently tested this. Soldiers-heads exposed. Really only at certain times-like when beginning to exercise and blood flow to brain increases that it’s true. Otherwise the amount of heat loss directly related to skin exposure over whole body
- Only manmade structure visible from space? Great wall of China...not
- Bulls enraged by red-color blind-movement of fabric
- How many wise men visiting Jesus? (Matt 2:1)
The Funny Thing about Belief
These examples reveal a funny thing about belief. The fact is that we all probably hold beliefs that are not true-false beliefs.
- Not easily identifiable-would'nt believe them if knew they were false.
You can't go through life, though, trying to say, "I'm not going to believe in anything because I might be wrong." In order to live at all we need to act on things we believe.Belief; faith; is at the root of just about everything we do.
- Starting your car, faith that your body will function properly, faith that chairs will hold you.
Everything Begins with Faith
From the earliest moments of our lives we begin by acting in faith. An infant has faith that his parents will feed and take care of him-they will respond to his cries.
As that child continues to grow, he makes decisions based upon what he believes to be true from things he's experienced...whether those beliefs are true or not. If you were to tell a child that color red was actually blue...they would believe that to be true. If you never tell a child that you love them-they believe they are unloved-whehter that's actually true or not. Studies have shown that kids growing up in orphanages where they received no affection end up ont forming normal relationships with other people-they tend to be fearful and unresponsive. They believe that they are all alone in the world.
We live in a culture that places a high value on things like logic, reason and scientific discovery. These are good things, but it is important to realize that when you start to peel back the way we think and respond to the world, everything begins with belief...or faith...in something.
People do say that faith and science are different, and that people of faith...Christians...ignore solid evidence in order to maintain their beliefs. They don't understand, though, that even scientific discovery is affected by belief. You can't escape it because we are human-we don't know everything. In science there are many things that we can't observe directly-things too small to see or feel directly...things far in the past or the future. There is a lot we can't know about those things. The best we can do is take what we can observe and come up with a possible explanation. That explanation will always have to be based upon our own individual foundational beliefs. This is no different that how we as Christians respond to the things we observe. Take two people and have them look at the same set of data. One who believes that God created the world and everything in it, and that God loves us and desires to know us personally will explain that data in a different way than someone who believes that our lives are the result of random natural forces. The root of is all is faith in something.
Check out my cool shades!
Think about it this way. Wearing sunglasses changes the way the world looks doesn't? Put on a pair of rose-colored glasses and everything looks rosy colored right? Put on a different color and it changes everything. I have a pair of old 3-d specs with me today. Everything looks...kinf of...funky. Can't quite decide if things are red or blue. Makes the world a little confusing.
It's valentine's day today...maybe your sweetie bought you some roses... (or maybe he's going to shortly after church today!) Imagine admiring that bouquet as it sits on that table....you can picture that can't you.?
But what if you saw things through a different kind of lens...say you only say things in B&W....what would that look like? How would that affect the way you feel or respond to the world?
Now say you see things through a filter that allows you to see infrared light. How different might the scene be? You might even be aware of things that the person looking through what we'd call the "normal lens" couldn't see. How might that affect that way you respond to the world? It might even allow you to know the truth about certain things that people wearing other lenses aren't aware of.
Imagine that every person is walking around with a certain type of shades on...shades that we have chosen based upon what we believe to be true about the world. I think we can begin to understand how what we see...what we believe to be true...will affect the way we act and interpret and talk about the world.
What about the truth?
Now just because we see things differently, doesn't mean we our perspectives are always correct. That infrared view showed the truth that there is a house outside the window. The infrared view revealed truth that others could not see.
There is a truth...one solid, unchangeable truth about the world and who we are and who God is and how He interacts with us...and so on. There is a truth...and it makes sense that we have the most to gain by knowing the truth. The greatest freedom and fulfillment in life will come from knowing truth...so we ought to spend our lives seeking that truth...seeking to view the world with a proper set of lenses.
Now remember that right now we are all wearing different sets of glasses, and some of the things we believe are due to the fact that our glasses have skewed our observations. Other people could be closer to observing the truth than us...others could be further away...wearing darker tinted glasses perhaps. Those differing beliefs are going to conflict with one another sometimes. How do we respond?
I think there tend to be a couple of natural human responses we have when someone challenges our beliefs.
- the first is to say, "I'm right your wrong". You've got the wrong kind of glasses on. But that doesn't work. We never discover truths we were never aware of.
- The second kind of "natural" or "worldly" response is to try to just get along with everyone and never disagree. To say, "You know, maybe your right, " to everyone. But that's just not a consistent way of living. It's like trying to put on every single type of glasses....eventually you are going to block out everything and just wander around in the dark...not knowing where you are going at all..
Be a Berean!
Here is where the Bible provides us with wisdom beyond our own natural reactions. It really is true what Proverbs 3:5-6 says, "Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight." God's wisdom is better than our own understanding...as we'll see here.
In Acts 17 we encounter a group of people-the Bereans-who are dealing with a situation where their foundational beliefs are being challenged. They are being asked to try on a new set of shades. Take a look at verses 10-12
These Bereans were Jewish people. They held onto Jewish customs and beliefs-beliefs that affected they way they interacted with the world. Now Paul has come and told them that Jesus was God Himself in human flesh who offered himself as a sacrifice for sin. That they no longer had to keep working and sacrificing to prove themselves worthy to God...and that Jesus gave his life or all men. This was a challenge to the Jews...other groups had tried to kill Paul for this message, but Acts tells us that the Bereas were of more noble character and received Paul's message with enthusiasm. They decided not to outright reject Him...but they also didn't immediately adopt his way of thinking either. Thye said, "Now wait a minute....it's possible he could be right, but we're going to check this out first." They went back to something the knew they could place their confidence in. They examined Scripture to see if what He said was true.
These people understood that there were things they could learn...there was truth they didn't yet know....but beneath everything else, they knew they have a foundation they could trust in-God's Word. They knew that Scripture had been given to them by God for their benefit....that they could trust in it. they knew this because of the testimony of generations of people before them who had trusted in Scripture and because of what God showed them as they placed their trust in His Word.
They knew they could trust in statements such as what God told Joshua in Joshua 1:8: Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. (Jos 1:8 NIV)
They knew that beneath everything else there was truth in the words of Moses when he declared in Deut 32:46-47: he said to them, "Take to heart all the words I have solemnly declared to you this day, so that you may command your children to obey carefully all the words of this law. They are not just idle words for you—they are your life. By them you will live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to possess." (Deu 32:46-47 NIV)
The Bereans knew what their foundation was and they went back to that to test what Paul said. It was there that they discovered that Scripture confirmed and validated the good news of Jesus Christ!
We all need a foundation like this. Take all the various lenses we've learned to view the world through...and strip them away. What's left? For many people there isn't much there...it's like eposing your eyes to too much light. It blinds you and you can't make clear sense of things. Not so for the Bereans. At the very root of the lenses they wore was a something that made sense and could be trusted.
This is just like a parable Jesus told in Matthew 7:24-26:
"Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. (Mat 7:24-26 NIV)
We need to have a solid foundation...we need trustworthy lenses that will not fail us when everything else is challenged.
Wear your Bible Lenses Proudly
The foundation we can depend upon is the same as what the Bereans turned to-Scripture. God's Word. the Bible. God's Word is trustworthy in all that it teaches us. The Bereans knew that the Jewish people had found Scripture to be a fountain of wisdom about God and themselves for centuries. They knew God’s Word wouldn’t change with the way they felt or with current cultural trends...it was something that would always point them back to truth. They saw that the Old Testament Scripture-which is what they had at the time Acts was written-confirmed and agreed with the message we now have access to in the New Testament.
The Bible has been given to us by God as He inspired the people who wrote these words and as it has been faithfully preserved throughout its history...it is truth...it is consistent and cohesive...this has been tesitifed to by countless people who have placed their trust in Jesus.
This is the foundation of this church...we will always go back to God’s word to guide and even correct us. We affirm what Paul wrote to TImothy in 2 Timothy 3:14-17:
But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2Ti 3:14-17 NIV)
We need to know that God's Word is able to make us wise and it will set us free from false beliefs...misunderstandings...and outright deception. And, as the beginning of this passage points out, we need to make sure we are listening to trustworthy teachers of that Word.It is when we know and depend upon this foundations...that we put on our Biblical glasses before adding any other lenses...that we will be able to make wise decisions...face challenges...and gain the greatest freedom and satisfaction in our lives.
In order to find that freedom, we want to continually encourage and challenge ourselves...all of us...to develop daily bible reading habits. How can we trust in our foundation unless we really know and remind ourselves of what is says? There are all kinds of bible reading plans available to help you discipline your time. If you are on the road a lot...there are excellent audio versions of the Bible available today. This really is the most important book for us to be reading.
We also continue to encourage involvement in a small group that has Bible study at its core. We learn to understand God’s Word and draw closer to the truth best when we study with other people. Remember we all come wearing different glasses...those varying perspectives and experiences are there to help us see things we couldn’t before. In a small group we have the same opportunity week after week as the Bereans did to go back and see together what God’s word says about issues we discuss.
Finally I encourage you to be a lifelong learning; make use of the resources we share here to build in your understanding of God’s Word. We make every effort to share with you resources and teachings from people who handle God’s Word well...who themselves wear Biblical lenses. I know that what we have on the table out there doesn’t always change frequently, but we keep bulding...it’s a work in progress...couple of new things....video library...list of books. If you have things you’d like to share, let me know, we’ll take a look at them.
Know like that Bereans that there are always new things to learn, but they will built upon a solid foundation. We'll see them through faithful and trustworthy Biblical lenses. Find those lenses...wear them firmly and proudly. As we do this we will continue to unnlock the riches of God's wisdom throughout our lives, gain great joy and glory for Him.
Let’s give thanks to God today for giving us this solid foundation to build our lives upon.