How open-minded should we be?

The Standard January 27, 2022

Intentionally or not, we each spend a lifetime making observations and drawing conclusions which shape our worldviews. From childhood we build foundations based on practices and outcomes we notice, making assumptions about what actions or attitudes achieve what results. Some of us, along the way, find our foundational principles to be solid, while others of us experience a paradigm shift. Hopefully we take time to evaluate our core beliefs, to make necessary adjustments and to build on what we deem to be right. For Christians, this only can be done through the study of Scripture and the development of an intimate relationship with God.

“The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel: for gaining wisdom and instruction; for understanding words of insight; for receiving instruction in prudent behavior, doing what is right and just and fair; for giving prudence to those who are simple, knowledge and discretion to the young—let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance—for understanding proverbs and parables, the sayings and riddles of the wise. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” (Proverbs 1:1-7)

“My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding—indeed, if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God. For the LORD gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. He holds success in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones. Then you will understand what is right and just and fair—every good path. For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul. Discretion will protect you, and understanding will guard you.” (Proverbs 2:1-11)  “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” (Proverbs 9:10)

Using a parable, Jesus says that hearing his words and putting them into practice is like a wise person building their house on rock. Early on in our building process, we must be open-minded as we learn what God is calling us to be and to do. As we prepare our foundation and study the Bible, we find amazing continuity between the Old and New Testaments and God’s plan carefully woven throughout. The Law and the Prophets plus the words of Jesus and the New Testament writers combine to make a perfect whole. Jesus explained that after he returned to the Father, he would send the Advocate to live in each believer. “All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” (John 14:25-26) “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.” (John 16: 12-13) 

As we grow in wisdom and knowledge with the help of the Holy Spirit, we certainly should be open to new things God is showing us. Of course, these new things always are consistent with the nature of God and our understanding of the teachings of Scripture. Just as we never would ask a scientist to be open-minded that the earth might be flat or a mathematician to reconsider that two plus two might not equal four, we should not be asked to be open-minded that what is consistently spelled out in the Bible might not really be God’s design. No one should ask us to consider that every human life might not be invaluable or worthy of dignity, for example. While it would be next to impossible to deconstruct completely a foundation which has been laid carefully over time, we must be open-minded that there are gray areas or non-essentials about which many Christians through the centuries have disagreed, personal preferences and tastes which are not God-ordained and countless people who want to be heard and valued. It is important to ask the Holy Spirit to help us identify our ways of thinking which have not been grounded in what is true or what is essential.

“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)

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