January 29, 2009

Out in Left Field

Do you ever feel like you're the only black sheep in a whole field of white fluffy sheep? I feel like that quite often, to tell you the truth. Most often, I feel this when I'm having some form of biblical or spiritual discussion. Sometimes I agree with everything that's being said, but many times my point of view is way out in left field. Maybe it's my very liberal upbringing and the lack of biblical knowledge growing up, who knows?

Let me give you a specific example. In our Sunday morning class, we've been reading and discussing "The Shack". One of the things we discussed among our small group one morning was the Trinity and whether or not there was a hierarchy present. Let me just state now that I don't think this is a matter of salvation; I don't believe it will be required knowledge on the day of judgment. It was just a sharing of opinion whether we all agreed or not. The gentleman I was talking to firmly believes that there IS a hierarchy among them, I do not. What's funny is the same passages he cited in having studied and come to this conclusion, I can point to and use to support MY opinion, which, of course, is in opposition to his. Again, in this specific example, I don't think it's a matter of salvation. I just think it's one of those things that I'll put on my list to ask God when I get to Heaven.

In our small group on Sunday evening, we've been going through the book "The Sinai Summit" by Rick Atchley. It discusses the ten commandments and we happened to be on "Do Not Murder." I brought up a question partly to play devil's advocate, partly to get others discussing and partly because I struggle with this particular issue.

Don't get me wrong, I have no intention of literally killing anyone. My concerns lie more in the area of capital punishment. God established certain laws for his people and with those laws came consequences. But we also live under a new law that says the most important thing is love your God and love your neighbor. If we love our neighbor, how can we sentence him/her to death? I've heard, "Well, it's the law of the land and we're supposed to obey that law." Yes, but what if the laws of the land go against God's teaching? Abortion is legal but I certainly don't follow that law. "We're protecting other families from this criminal." Do we know for certain that he/she will hurt someone again? Is this person who was formed in the image of God, but isn't living for Him worth less to God? Are we absolutely sure that God has no plans to turn this life around and use it for good?

I'm not looking for answers on this particular topic. I'm not even sure if I agree with the arguments that I brought up. The point is, I don't always see things in black and white. Most of the time I chalk it up to my lack of scriptural study. As I've said before, I'm very shallow when it comes to reading. I tend to be content with what's on the surface and miss out on any deeper meaning. I admire those who have a firm stance on an issue and can argue their beliefs with conviction, those who've studied and read and prayed and have come to those beliefs through much learning.

I tend to be swayed by those who are more "studied" than myself. I figure they've read more, they've obviously been around more and understand things better, they MUST be right. So I find myself agreeing with whatever opinion has been expressed...until I get home. And then I think, "Wait a minute. I DON'T agree with that. I just don't see it that way." I realize that the only way to be sure of what I do believe is to sit down and study a certain topic. But I have to admit, I'm not really at a point in my life that I sit down and open my bible and say, "OK, let's see what God says about capital punishment, and while I'm at it, I'll look through 5 different commentaries and research it on the web, too." No, thank you.

In all things essential, I believe that I'm on the right path, everything else is just background noise. Sometimes I listen and sing along and sometimes I just block it out before it becomes too overwhelming.

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