I like things to fit.
I like everything to make sense.
I like systems.
And it’s not just me with my INTJ/ENTJ personality, that LOVES SYSTEMS and the BIG PICTURE more than most people.
It’s just human nature to settle into comfortable patterns, right?
We take our coffee a certain way.
Commute a particular route.
Dress in recognizable combinations.
Listen to our favourite playlists or personalities.
Settle into daily routines.
It’s no different with our beliefs.
Sometimes we settle into beliefs because we’ve studied those topics deeply. We’ve learned the Bible, heard good teaching, and evaluated different ideas for their strengths and weaknesses.
But sometimes we just settle into belief because it’s easy.
Because it’s what the radio (or Christian radio) says.
Because popular books promote it, or make their case in a way that seems logical.
Because certain personalities say it. People we like, or who we want to be like.
Because we haven’t had a chance to think through it, so we accept the views or teaching of people we trust.
Or because we’ve never even thought about it… but we’ve just absorbed it in the atmosphere.
And the way we interpret everything is still influenced.
How we view the Bible. How we treat ourselves. How we make sense of others’ behaviour. How we think verses go together.
Sometimes we form these beliefs with intention… sometimes not.
And we get comfortable with those systems.
To the point where it can take a lot to change our mind.
We can hold shallow beliefs about suffering – until we experience deep pain.
Or think simplistically about prosperity and blessing – until we lose our job or get an undeserved windfall.
We can have definite ideas about parenting that get torn up and shown to be inadequate.
Or how prayer works.
These assumptions can all change real quick. Sometimes it even takes a crisis, right?
God uses our life experience – and often our pain – to move us into deeper understanding. Towards Him and the truth in His word.
It can take a lot to change our comfortable assumptions into true ideas.
And once you get on the other side, you’re grateful, right?
You’re glad you understand the grace of God in suffering more fully. Or the way he provides – in good times and bad. Or that prayer is more than a cosmic vending machine.
But when God moves us into a fuller understanding, (or what we think is a fuller understanding) we are in danger of becoming proud.
That hey, we finally “get it!”
And hey… why don’t others see it? It makes so much sense to us! It’s clearly the right view.
Just as before, the other perspective we held was “clearly the right view.”
Dangerous stuff, right? That’s human nature for you.
And at best, we run the risk of wondering why others don’t change their beliefs… when we already have.
Because on the other side, it looks simple, right?
At worst, we can accuse and rail against the old view. (You know, the view we used to hold!)
Writing people off.
Having no patience for it – or for them.
So as I’ve walked through this path, I’ve had to change some views about women in ministry.
I believe they are based on what the Bible says, and searching for the clearest understanding.
Regardless of the consequence. Regardless of what it meant for myself.
Regardless if I ended up in ministry, or if the truth meant I had to give that idea up. Regardless of what labels I was called afterwards.
When we look deeper at any issue, what does the Bible really say?
Whether the media or Christian books or among friends.. or even in our own denomination, I’ve encountered a lot of mixed messages, to be honest.
Some of them hurtful and unfair.
Some of them gracious, well-reasoned, and worthy of consideration.
I had to move away from popular personalities and opinions, and see what we know about the context of the Bible, and what the early church practiced.
What the Bible says and why it says it.
To be thankful for all the good things I was taught about how God created us male and female, with all our interesting differences. To be thankful for that truth and those who model it.
But I also had to move. To reject some systems and ideas I absorbed. From popular opinions.
And yes, from some teaching that skimmed along at a surface level. Or didn’t look enough into the background of what was happening at the time a verse was written.
And into an understanding I believe more fully reflects the Bible, and God’s intention for us.
But I never want to write people off who aren’t there yet, or who still arrive at a different conclusion on these issues.
And I get really uncomfortable with the attitudes I encounter sometimes.
The polarization of terms. That you need to pick between regressive or ridiculous. Liberty or liberal. Feminist or fundamentalist.
Throwing labels like that onto people just shuts down the conversation. And especially – especially! – when I believe I’m on the right side of an issue, I don’t want to dismiss everyone who disagrees with me. If I think I know the truth, I still want to keep dialoguing with those who think differently. Whether or not they end up agreeing. Because we all learn and grow in our perspectives at different rates – and sometimes still disagree in the end.
I’m sympathetic to those who reach different conclusions. Whether they’ve looked deeply into this or not.
Even if we end up with very dissimilar perspectives.
And I hope that you ask good questions – on every issue!
When I think I might be tending towards pat answers, I have to ask a few questions. I start with ones like this:
- Do I know the relevant parts of the Bible about this? Do I understand their context (what was happening at the time they were written, why they were written, the date, author, genre of writing, etc.)
- Am I forming these opinions solo? Or can I point to others who hold this view and teach it?
- Do I know the views of the early church and the New Testament on this?
- Do I believe this because it’s popular with the people around me? Or written by a popular author?
- If it’s a tough issue with lots of opinions — do I know what the different views are, and why people hold each of them?
And wherever we’re at – on prayer or prosperity or who can occupy a pulpit?
Let’s have those conversations full of grace.
10. The path of wisdom
11. Redeemed and resurrected
12. Three big lies
13. Courage to change
14. Adulting is hard…
15. And mentoring is harder
16. Bombs and truth bombs
17. Females and finances
18. Two hundred bad sermons
19. Evangelical, Pentecostal, Female, and Not Alone
20. Strong arms or feeble hands?
21. Strength to strength