Private Christian schools, Bible Colleges and Universities, and Seminaries have instilled in us an approved Christian orthodoxy from the cradle to the grave. And woe be it to us if we depart from the accepted path. We’ve heard the same information and answers to all of our questions for so long that only certain conclusions seem reasonable and acceptable to us now.
Tradition, pride, and prejudice die hard. So said a popular minister in Dallas, Texas, this past Sunday (March 5, 2017). How true that is! But how little each of us believes it is true of us personally. I find it interesting that most of us think everyone else is bound by errant traditions, but we have somehow remained free from them. But the truth of the matter is we are all programmed by the messages that we’ve heard all our lives. Few have any interest in even looking into the possibility that they might need to correct some part of what they have been taught. Even though we all come from different traditions, we somehow think that our tradition is, without any doubt, the correct one, and everyone else must adjust to what we believe to be true.
I’m directionally challenged! That is the politically correct way of saying, “I get lost.” I picked my son up at the airport one evening, took the wrong turn because of highway construction and then tried to get back to familiar territory for over one hour and a half. When I see a “detour sign,” my blood press begins to climb, and panic begins its quiet, subtle overthrow of my once calmed emotions because I know I’m about to get lost yet again.
When I get lost, I experience complete disorientation. I forget to ask myself questions like, “where is the sun and what time of day is it?” Yet, with all my disorientation, I feel so confident that the next turn I make will bring me out of this mess. Yet that too is a problem since it leads me to keep going in the wrong direction hoping that it will somehow, eventually lead me back to the right road if I just keep going. Think of me as an example of the nation of Israel in its wilderness wanderings, except on wheels.
Many people are directionally challenged when it comes to finding the correct road to heaven. And this can also create a lot of disorientation and panic.
The problem is exacerbated by the fact that there is a cacophony of voices shouting out different directions, all at the same time.
It is probably the universal belief among Christians that Jesus is their safety net. Faith placed in Him will keep that “believer” out of the fires below. As a result of this guaranteed deliverance after death, some Christians are openly rebellious while others seem to be indifferent to spiritual things on a daily basis. I have even had the opportunity of ministering to some Christians who were taught not to worry about sinning because they can always confess it and know that God will forgive it. In other words, they don’t need to stop sinning; they just need to confess it on a regular basis. If they do, God is almost obligated to forgive all the sins that are confessed, or at least that is the impression that some folks have from the teaching that they have received.
Every repentant person (notice that I didn’t add the word “truly!” God knows every man’s heart and can’t be conned in any way), whether he is a Christian or not, will be forgiven. God wants to forgive more than most people want to be forgiven. But He doesn’t forgive the insincere or the manipulative. He sees right through such dark motivations. He is infinitely more knowledgeable than the evil Queen’s mirror on the wall! He knows what is fair, what is fake, and what is flawed. He simply knows it all.
This was the word which was used repeatedly by Vizzini in the Princess Bride. But Inigo Montoya responds correctly when he notably said, “You keep using that word. I don’t think it means what you think it means.” Montoya was correct…Vizzini was using the word incorrectly. Words are funny that way. The Greek Stoic Philosopher Epictetus wrote, “First learn the meaning of what you say, and then speak.”
In the English language that is often difficult to do.
We talk about things like English Muffins, which have no origination in England. We speak about hamburgers which have no ham; in the same way we speak of eating eggplant but it has no egg in it. We talk about parking on driveways, and driving on parkways. We say that a house can burn up…as it burns down. I could go on…but I am sure you get the idea. The English language may be one of the most difficult to learn, understand, or interpret.
Communication, written or spoken, is riddled with inherent complications.
We need to learn the meaning of what we say before we speak about what we think we know. When we speak about spiritual concepts or topics, we must learn the meaning that God gave to the terms before we use them.
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