A young lady who goes by the handle of Nasrim M.O.V. on Google+ (who used to use her real last name, but it’s long and complex) shared a quote that connected with me on several levels. It’s by Kahlil Gibran in a work called “Sand and Foam”. The statement reads, “When you reach the end of what you should know, you will be at the beginning of what you should sense.”
I used to read a lot of Kahlil Gibran in my rebellious late teens and early twenties, when I was avoiding being “Christian”. Because I equated that term with being outwardly dressed up one day a week, supposedly worshipping God, living like hell the rest of the time. The problem was that I only saw that side of Christianity (as fake as it was). I thought all Christianity was like that. And I wanted no part of a religion and a God that promoted hypocricy. Obviously, my understanding has changed, since I’m now very happy to be a Christian. But I’m glad I made the detour. It taught me a lot.
As I was seeking, I studied various schools of Buddhism, read Gibran, browsed the Indian religious readings, read the Christian mystics, among other things. Each had its own good and bad points, some true, others totally invalid. The problem is to sort out the quality thoughts from the junk. If you’re not a Christian, do you reject anything Christian’? If you are Christian, do you avoid anything by non-Christan thinkers, even if the statements line up with Christian doctrine? Which brings me to an illustration that a number of our pastors have used.
When the FBI trains its agents to recognize counterfeit money, they never use counterfeit bills to show the differences. There are too many variations. Instead, the agents are trained to recognize real money. And that’s all they’re shown. The result is that the agents don’t have to worry about “this is A and that is B”. It’s “this is A and that is not A”. Much simpler. And it makes recognizing counterfeits that much easier. The same is true for our faith.
I’m a huge believer that all Christians should have some Bible college courses. And, preferably, a Bible college degree. Just like those FBI agents, every believer needs to recognize what they believe and what they ought to believe. Just like counterfeit bills, there are too many variations of wrong thinking. How many variations of Buddhism are there? If someone “accepts Christ” in India, will He just be one among hundreds of gods or will He become the sole God worshipped? How many cults and other religions have changed how they say things to sound like their beliefs are more like Christianity than is actually the case?
Matthew 7:6 says, “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.”. That’s not against soul winning. But it does suggest, in context, that our message is going to be rejected by some. And, if those are schooled in their belief system, they’re most likely going to attack back. If they’re well trained and we’re not, their points may seem to have more “teeth” than ours. If we are properly taught in what we believe, we can recognize what’s not true. And we’re not afraid of quotes from non-Christians that say the things we believe. Because they no longer have the power to draw us into incorrect thinking. But we can point out how God allowed them to see a point of Truth.
If we want to call ourselves Christian, then we need to know exactly what the Bible says. Untaught, we could be like those swine in Matthew 7:6, fighting among ourselves about doctrinal differences. Asking what would Jesus do instead of celebrating what He already did.
I said, at the beginning of this post, that the Gibran quote spoke to me on several levels. We’ll get into the other thought in our next LifeNote. This isn’t another series, but the thoughts are intertwined. So, we’ll keep the two together. In the meantime, how do you grow in the understanding of God and our faith?