As a pastor, because our church is new, I've decided to instruct our small group on what we believe and teach. I want them to know why we follow certain paths. I've come to realize that many of us don't know what we believe. We take our pastor's word for it and never delve into the pros and cons of our own church's doctrine to see if we agree that it teaches the truth.
In America we're good at letting others tell us what is right or wrong. We've allowed others to dictate to us whether or not we can read the Bible or have prayer in our schools. According to them, it's contrary to the Constitution of the United States. But is it? Do we really know?
How many of us can quote the Articles of the Constitution? Or even repeat the Preamble? Not me! (Shame on me!) I can say, "We the people of the United States" and that's as far as I can get. I can recite Lincoln's Gettysburg Address as far as, "Four score and seven years ago, our fathers" I remember almost every word of the Pledge of Allegiance. In spite of this lacking, I boastfully say that I'm an American and never check to see if I understand what being an American really means.
I have vowed that I'll frequent the local library until I learn what our forefathers meant when they set up a government by the people and for the people. Most of us sit back while the government is run, not by the people, but by a select few who run it for the peopleand they usually run it according to their interpretation of our Constitution.
Are our churches being run by a select few who have decided what's best for all of us? Or do we keep up with the Word of God and choose leaders who follow his Word?
Can we quote God's Word? When I was in grade school, we learned Bible verses. I still remember most of them today; but it's sad to say that I haven't learned new passages of scripture like I should.
Often we misquote scripture, because we take someone's word for it instead of learning for ourselves. (Can you find: "Cleanliness is next to Godliness" in your Bible?) Let's get our nose into the Book and make sure that the path we're following is the right path. Just because we're following a leader doesn't mean we're on the right path. The Bible says that not every path that seems right to man is the true path. Matthew 15:14 states, "they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, they shall both fall into the ditch." (See also Luke 6:39) I don't want to fall into the ditch because someone else is directing my steps.
I'm not at all suggesting that you should not follow your pastor's leading. I'm just saying that you need to read God's Word and make sure that he or she is following the footsteps of Jesus.
If we don't know what the Constitution holds, we won't know when we're being misled. If we don't know what sayeth God's Word, we also stand the chance of being led astray. I, for one, don't want to take that chance.
Can you point someone to Christ by his Word? The Bible tells us not to be ashamed and to know what we believe. II Timothy 1:12 says, "I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed." I Peter 3:15 reads, "be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear."
Those searching for God want to know what you believe, not what you don't believe. The negative aspect of our Christian experience will never benefit others. When someone says to you, "What do you believe?" do you rattle on about the things that, as a Christian, you can't partake of or do you immediately go to the heart of the matter and tell them about Jesuswhat he has done for you; what he can do for them? Give everyone an educated answer for the hope that is within you. Study the Word.
Jacquelyn Horne is a former newspaper reporter who has won various awards including two Delaware School Bell awards. She has poems and articles published in magazines and Christian publications. She moved from Delaware to central Georgia 13 years ago.
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