It’s that wonderful time of year when we bask in the newness of a year and all it’s potential. I’ve heard a lot of people say “a new year, a new me,” in the last few weeks, and I’ve got my own list of things I would like to see happen in the next 12 months.
In light of a desire for personal growth, I’ve challenged myself to read more non-fiction works this year. (I adore novels!) And so, the other day I read an article on how to be active in our faith and let the Holy Spirit be evident in our lives. Since this is a topic I’m intrigued by, I was excited to see if there were some practical nuggets of truth I could glean. However, upon reading, several things didn’t settle right and I couldn’t help but feel very disappointed by the time I got to the end. In short, what the article said didn’t add up.
But here’s the rub. The words were very convincing. In fact, I actually pondered for a bit if I was just being rigid in my stance and not being open to ways that God might want to move in my life just because they were new concepts for me.
As time went on, I moved from feeling unsettled to downright concerned. Upon talking it over with people who have a solid grasp on theology and have no agenda to push, we came to the conclusion that the article has some serious flaws. Dangerous flaws to be exact.
Now, we all know we should never take one experience and let it lead us toward lumping a whole group of people or a certain denomination into a box. However, it’s wise to let an experience lead us toward personal growth and reflection. And, to let it spur us to sharpen our minds so that we can rightly identify false teachings rather than to fall for their glamorous appeal. Because let’s be real; there are dangerous doctrines out there that tug on our hearts and emotions and make us feel right. In a day and age where sermons and teachings are on our phones, TV, streamed on youtube and plastered all over social media, we truly need to have a way to filter what we learn that doesn’t rely solely on our emotions, feelings, personal knowledge or what’s trendy right now.
Here are some questions to help get that filtering process started:
- Does this teaching suggest I do something that brings more attention to me than to God?
When it’s all said and done, when God moves in our lives people should be talking about HIM more than they are talking about US.
- Is this actually backed by scripture?
Not all “good ideas” are “God ideas.” When reading something that brings new concepts for you, don’t just take it at face value. Pausing to research or ask your Bible study group for insight can be vital.
- Why is this being taught?
I hate to say this, but not everyone who preaches does it with the right intentions. There are some people out there who are spreading more confusion than they are spreading the truth. If someone is using buzz words or phrases that leave you feeling like a lack of faith has kept you from being healed, or that you need to give money to their ministry before God can bless you financially; take a step back for clarity!
- Have I prayed about this?
This one might sound obvious, but some of us are quick movers when it comes to learning and wanting to implement what we have just learned.
- Does this give me a false sense of power?
It’s easy to fall for the formulas. This thought + this action + this amount of faith = God responding [in a way that we want]. It’s appealing, believe me, I’ve been there. But whether we realize it or not, God is always at work. How about we ask Him where He’s working and join Him?
There are many other ways to make sure we aren’t led off course and I would love to hear your ideas, so be sure to leave a comment! Blessings to you and may we all learn, grow and reflect CHRIST more in 2018 than we did in 2017!