When it comes to some of our most deeply held beliefs, we frequently point back to a parent, a teacher, or some meaningful event in our life that shaped our views. News stories, peer pressure and office talk influence us also; and the list goes on and on.
As a young person, I was an atheist. I did not believe in God, and never attended church. I didn't worry about tomorrow, and felt I felt I was accountable to no one. Why? As a child, I believed what my mother believed. It made sense to me at the time. As my mother got a little older and she read books by Edgar Cayce, and similar people, she embraced a lot of new age ideas, including reincarnation, and I changed right along with her. We talked a lot about religion and what happens when we die.
Politically my mother was what some would call a liberal, tree-hugging democrat, and so was I. We had memberships in Green Peace and World Wildlife Funds, and the bumper stickers and t-shirts to prove it. I was strongly in favor of gun control, and abortion.
This reminds me of what I have been told many times, by many people concerning parenting: "You did the best you can at the time, with where you were and what knowledge you had." As children, we tend to believe what our parents believe, and as we age and begin to think for ourselves, our views change along with us.
As a young adult, I was more agnostic than atheist, but still a Democrat, and even campaigned one year for a local election. After I became sick in 1998, and a co-worker of Chad's invited us to church, we became Pentecostal Christians. Later as we interacted more with the church, other Christians, read and learned about the Bible we shifted again to a conservative Republican stance. Fast forward to today and we are currently in the Reformed Christian, Libertarian, pro-gun, pro-life camp. But why? How could I have believed everything from the far left, far right, and everything in between?
Is it because we are smarter than others? Or more stupid? More hateful or loving? I would say NO! While our personality, life experiences, IQ and other factors may influence our belief system, it is important to recognize that the Bible is full of references to the fact the it is God who gives wisdom, knowledge, and understanding. The reason I have believed so many different things is because I am a sinner.
You may be wondering what any of this has to do with my normal writing about physical suffering and why I am bringing this up. The answer is because lately I have felt heartbroken at recent events and social media posts. Both sides of the aisle are casting stones. Lots of hate, boasting, and intolerance. At every point in my life, I had firmly held beliefs, and yet clearly I no longer believe what I did when I was younger. As I sit here today, I can honestly say that I don't always know what the truth is. I have been wrong before, and I will be wrong again. I have done the best I could, with the information I had at the time. I was passionate and sincere in my beliefs, but sincerely wrong. I need to constantly be comparing what I believe to God's word, and where I am wrong, I pray it would be made aware to me.
As a Christian, what has been most troubling to me is the gloating and arrogance I have witnessed from other Christians regarding the election. I did not become a Christian until God removed the scales from my eyes. Since it is God who is the source of all wisdom and knowledge, He alone opens our eyes to that truth. Because the human "heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked" (Jeremiah 17:9), I should be on my knees in prayer asking for wisdom and humility. It is by God's grace rather than personal knowledge that we have understanding. We should be painfully aware of our tendency toward arrogance and pride, and the fact we have all held wrong beliefs in the past. We should pray for God to be merciful and uncover the areas of error in our lives, because we all have them.
I keep thinking that what we need is more love and grace towards our neighbor. People are worried and scared for various reasons. They don't need us to gloat or point out their political errors. They need Jesus. We should be in prayer for them, for God to open their eyes like He did ours, and in prayer for ourselves to be a loving, faithful witness.
Before I end, I want to just clarify something; the Bible is very clear on the gospel message and many other issues. While I have believed wrongly about things past, present and future; I know that God's word is true, and it can be trusted, but it must be handled with care. We are a sinful, rebellious people, prone to err and pride. Apart from Christ, we are headed to hell. God must remove the scales from our eyes to see Him and understand His Word. The clearly revealed truth of scripture is that unless you repent you will perish. Again, may I suggest that all of this should cause us to proceed cautiously, on our knees, in humility.
I titled this post using the famous words of Rodney King, "Can't we all just get along?" But sadly the answer is no; not apart from Christ, but we can be very gracious and remember that not everyone believes the exact same as we do. What an incredible opportunity we have been given this holiday season to be a light onto this world, and love our neighbors as ourselves. My prayer for each of us is that we would be humbled as we hear differing views on politics and other things, knowing that "such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God." (1 Corinthians 6:11)