Recently I have been catching myself thinking along this line: “no one really understands God. No one really wants an authentic, real life, muddled, flawed community. It’s all a lost cause… I’m weary of dealing with people who refuse to think critically about their beliefs, examining them inside and out. I’m so drained because of all the theological parrots, just repeating what they’ve been told without studying it, examining it, or praying it. I’m ready to be done with these people.”
And honestly? It’s depressing. So many people I meet on a day-to-day basis refuse to examine what they believe. They will scarcely even listen to someone whose ideas differ even in the slightest way from their own convictions—and even if they do listen it’s only to partake in a debate to try and prove their own thinking is the right way of thinking.
Ugh! It disgusts me! I was raised in a home where my parents challenged me to THINK about what I believe, and NOT just accept what mom and dad said. When I had a question about the Bible, my dad often said, “well Hannah, what do you think?” Usually my retort was, “I don’t know dad, that’s why I’m asking you…” But now, later in life I am SO GRATEFUL that my dad did not just spoon feed me Bible stories or his theological beliefs, because now I can think for myself, I am not dependent on someone else’s study to teach me what the Bible says.
Seriously, the two largest barriers to our American faith are (A) our traditions and (B) the fact that most do not read Greek (which is what the majority of the New Testament was written in). Unfortunately there are a number of words in the English translation of the Bible that just don’t express clearly enough what they actually meant in the Greek—what they meant to the original writer.
My heart is sad that the vast majority of Christians are content to simply go to church on Sunday morning, and maybe a small group during the week, and simply listen to what someone else studied, never once checking out whether what they are being taught is true or not. Also, it’s disheartening because even when someone tries to verify what they were taught, they are content to simply see that the verses did in fact line up with whatever principle or lesson they were being taught.
What if a small group leader, deacons, pastors, congregants all actually studied the Word? What if they stopped relying on a curriculum to teach from and began studying the Bible word-by-word, verse-by-verse? What if they were truly desiring to walk with the Lord that they challenged their own beliefs, and tested them out by reading what the Scripture is actually saying in it’s original language…what if?
Now a lot of y’all are sitting here thinking, “this chick is out to lunch! How in the name of Merlin’s beard am I supposed to make time to learn another language…a difficult language at that! That’s why my pastor was supposed to go to seminary, to learn Greek.” I understand your thinking, and please know that I am not sitting here right now saying that you should go and learn Greek (however, it would be an extremely useful tool for you when you study the Bible. Trust me, I know.) But, what I am saying is get online and use blueletterbible.org (or some other program that will show you Greek and it’s definitions). Verse by verse this website has a link for the actual Greek word being used, along with definitions of what that word literally means in Greek.
Please understand, I am not sitting here typing this out in order to bash on your pastor, small group leader, deacon, or congregation members. What I am challenging is the mindset most people in a traditional setting have adopted. My desire is that churches and ministries would be full of individuals who think deeply and seriously about what they are being taught and/or studying in the Bible. My desire is that we break the habit of repetition and become individuals who pursue the truth of the gospel on our own, and not be afraid to challenge the traditional line of thinking every once in a while…or a lot of a while.
Grace…Freedom… Systems are broken. But that’s okay they are simply human. They’re growing, changing, learning, seeking, and maturing, just like I am. I cannot reside to living in the broken system without anger or depression, but I can choose to find peace outside of it. I will choose to embrace the community around me, and strive to live by the words I claim. I will make mistakes, I will be broken, I will suffer. But I will remain a seeker.
Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Clarifying statements? Snarky remarks?