This guest post was written by Belinda Croft.
The Clean Out
Apprehension overwhelmed me this morning as I entered into a personal clothes clean-out flurry. What if, all of a sudden, I want to wear the top or jeans I had just ejected from my cupboard? Had I made an immense fashion mistake getting rid of them?
I managed to productively remove two bags of clothing from my life. However, it’s a little scary now as I analyze what I have left.
The clothes in my wardrobe bring a mysterious segue …
Lately I have been considering the practicality of fervently holding to doctrines and beliefs.
Locked up within many of our doctrines are misinformation and misunderstandings that have been passed on through generations of religion and denominations, and in some cases mistranslation of the original text.
What Doctrines Do You Adhere To?
Our beliefs regarding “Hell” can affect how we deal with people and how we view God. For example: “I’m right, and they are going to Hell” or “I’m going to Hell, so who cares how I live” or “You need to confess otherwise you are going to Hell” or even “A God who condemns people to Hell–what kind of God is that?”
Beliefs about the “End Times” and “The Rapture” can dictate steps that Christians must take to prepare themselves for those events.
Strong procedural beliefs about baptism can create judgements and impose requirements on the journeys of others.
Our understanding of “sin” plays out in our observation and treatment of non-Christians and Christians (including ourselves).
Our beliefs about the Bible can cause us to elevate it above Jesus and to use verses to attack or condemn others.
We too easily build up a wall of doctrine around us and then become offended and defensive when anyone challenges our beliefs.
A Rabbi to Follow
In early Jewish history, the Rabbis (teachers) were extremely respected and well educated in the Torah (the first five books of the Bible). They were particularly knowledgeable about Jewish Law. Anointed Rabbis had different interpretations of the Torah. A follower would align himself with a particular Rabbi based on the interpretations that corresponded with their own personal understanding. So, even before Jesus, there were accepted differences in understanding “doctrine.”
In Matthew, Jesus says, “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” Note that this verse does not add on the end, “as long as their doctrine is correct.”
The Bible records Jesus being called to judge or arbitrate several times during his earthly ministry. In most cases he was not interested in judging or taking sides. When people thought he should be on one particular side, he promptly advocated the opposing argument or remained neutral. In Luke, a man asks, “Teacher (Rabbi), tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” Jesus replies, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?” Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”
I’m not sure what the man took from the response Jesus gave him. In his mind it probably wasn’t fair. Surely he should get some of the inheritance? Surely Jesus wants his brother to do the most reasonable thing?
So What Does This Mean for Our Doctrines?
Slowly God chips away at our built up, inherited, or incorrectly taught views about Him. He taps away at our doctrine and gently asks us to lower our fists. He asks us to erase the lines we’ve drawn in the sand and to look to Jesus. Our futile attempts to build things up around us, once pulled down, give us freedom.
But it can be daunting to let go of our doctrinal walls. Similar to my wardrobe situation, my brain begins to wonder what life might be like if I let something go: “But I can’t let it go! I’ve carried it around with me from house to house, state to state! Some items I’ve inherited and I don’t even know how they got in my wardrobe!”
My built up doctrine is a barrier from experiencing who God really is and affects my acceptance of His love.
What have our doctrines bred within us? Do they cause us to experience fear, suspicion, anger, and judgment? Or do they bring us joy, acceptance, peace, and freedom?
The renewing of the mind, day after day is an honor and delight–but this may not be the renewing of the mind that you have been taught in Sunday School or Youth Group…
The message we get from Jesus is love, acceptance, mercy, and grace. And yes, in its fullness it will mess with your head … and with your doctrine.
Photo via Unsplash.
About Belinda Croft
Belinda has always enjoyed expressing herself. Her mediums have included dance, painting, writing, and performing for local theatre companies. In 2010 she was invited to write comment articles for Press Service International which culminated in her winning the “Basil Seller’s Australian Young Writer of the Year” in 2015. She writes regularly for periecho.com. You can find her previous work at www.periecho.com/belinda-croft. Belinda lives on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia.