He wore a suit and tie. He had a highly respected position in many Christian circles. He was intelligent, educated, funny, and charming, and he was easy to listen to. I remember sitting in the church service with my notebook open, ready to jot down the important bits from the pastor’s message so I could reflect on them later.
That’s when the pastor said something I didn’t agree with. It stopped me in my tracks. I’d been in church services before where I didn’t agree with a theological statement or a phrase in a song, but that was usually in churches I was visiting. But this was the church I’d picked while I was away at college. I thought I agreed with nearly everything.
I was certain about what I believed, but he was the pastor. So who was right?
Today’s verse is 1 John 4:1.
Dear friends, do not believe everyone who claims to speak by the Spirit. You must test them to see if the spirit they have comes from God. For there are many false prophets in the world.
Surprise! You aren’t going to agree with everyone. That’s just a fact of life, and you know what? That’s perfectly fine. You don’t have to agree with everyone, and not everybody has to agree with you.
But as Christians there are some things we should agree on. Granted, that doesn’t mean Christians always agree (good grief, does that ever happen?), but generally speaking, there are certain truths in Scripture that aren’t open for debate.
Following Jesus is obeying the Bible. That also means you have to know the Bible. You have to read it, believe it, apply it, use it every day of your life for the rest of your life. It’s a process, and you won’t master it overnight. You won master it in a year, two years, a decade, not even a lifetime.
But the more you know the Bible, the better you’ll be able to recognize lies or inconsistencies when you hear them, even if they come from your much-respected pastor. One of the beautiful things about being a Christ-follower is that there’s no gold stars for longevity. I’ve been a Christian since I was seven, but my opinion matters the same as someone who accepted Christ yesterday.
The Bible is the ultimate authority on how to live. If someone misquotes it, takes it out of context, or uses it to push an agenda, they’re wrong.
Read the Bible. Know the Bible. Use the Bible to help you make decisions. It’s the best way to guarantee you’re making the wisest choice you can, and it’s the only way to tell if someone else is leading you down a path that will hurt you.