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Outside our well
- Jacob Ninan
The proverbial frog in the well who thinks his well is the world represents many Christians who stay within the confines of their doctrines and denominations. It is comforting to enjoy the stability of familiarity, and frightening to take risks and venture outside. But our well is not the world. There is big wide world out there with millions of other Christians who are all part of the Body of Christ and who have something to give us and receive from us (Ep.4:15,16). But there are doctrinal walls that divide our wells and form us into groups that are even opposed to one another. Unfortunately the majority of Christians simply believe what their own pastor or group has told them and have not even looked at the possibility that they could be wrong.
But if we pick up courage and start looking at what exactly some of the opposing groups believe differently from us, and why they differ from us, we can perhaps begin to see things differently, a bit more broadly or somewhat more strongly. That would be our growth. Of course it would be uncomfortable to recognise that we were wrong, after all. That could mean having to admit it before people, the necessity to make changes to our lifestyle and affiliations, risk losing some of our old friends, etc. Therefore we can draw up a whole lot of justifications why where we are is good! But such justifications won't stand before God, and, if we are honest with ourselves, they would diminish our self-respect too. This explains why it would appear to be safer not to look outside our well in the first place.
When we learn to love one another it is not because we agree with them. We can disagree and yet love them because that is the way God loves us too! How much we disagree with one another is not as great as how much God disagrees with many of the things we believe and do! That's true, if we know how imperfect we are. So it is not that if we look at what others believe we may stop loving them. But we can grow in our understanding and make changes in our own attitudes and behaviour.
When doctrines divide us we must consider the possibility that our doctrine may be the wrong one. If we believe one way and some believe in an entirely different way both of us can't be right! Tolerating someone with a different view is different from living with our own wrong doctrine. If we are wrong, it is better to lose face and admit we were wrong than to stick to our position and lose out with God. See what Saul did when he discovered he had been wrong all along about Jesus (Ac.26:19). Following his example may be what will lead us to greater revelation and ministry.
Even though we all have to study the Bible for ourselves for our own growth, it is also true that we can't do it on our own. We also need to take in the truths others have unearthed over the centuries. We need to examine what different viewpoints there are about doctrines before we come to conclusions. And we must keep fine tuning things.
Those who want to be mature have to go this way, even if others find it too uncomfortable.