Last spring while at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, I noticed an artist. Her easel set, she’d already begun to paint the flowers about 6 feet away. She paused, looked intently at the flowers, then returned to the canvas. Just a few moments later she stepped up within a foot of them, another pause, then back to painting. One more pause as she moved back 20 feet, then she shifted 5 feet to the right, and returned to her work. Why? She wanted all the perspectives she could gather. Each was slightly different and contributed to the whole.
Let’s view our lives, particularly our walk with God, as a piece of art for and about God. Like the sidewalk artist, we need as many perspectives as we can gather to best form a complete and accurate picture. Just as she sought fuller dimensions of knowledge about the flowers, we need to continually grow in our knowledge. Paul taught us that the key to living the Jesus life begins with our minds, “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think” (Romans 12:2 NLT).
But good thinking requires good knowledge. Bloom’s Taxonomy of thinking has 6 steps. At the base of the pyramid is knowledge, then comes comprehension or getting it, then application to see how it fits, followed by analysis to probe more deeply, then synthesis to join it to other issues, and the final step is evaluation—determining if it’s good or bad, true or not.
If our knowledge has flaws, then we cannot properly evaluate. A bit scary, isn’t that? The Old Testament taught, “The first to present his case seems right, till another comes forward and questions him” (Proverbs 17:18). So, like the artist, we need to gain all the perspectives we can, so we can best know what’s involved. The greater the context, the greater the understanding.
This search for better knowledge involves knowing God and his nature, Jesus, salvation, living the Jesus life, the issues of the day that have a moral component. But let’s seek truth with a dash of humility.
While God’s truth can claim to be absolute, we as finite beings cannot know it all. He is beyond us. Furthermore, our interpretations of God’s absolute truth are not necessarily from God, but are our positions at the time, based on the imperfect knowledge we have. So we seek truth, as much as we can, and give grace to those who are at different positions in their truth search.
Not that we must agree, but we grant them freedom to have their beliefs while we still love and respect and value them, “Welcome those who are weak in faith, but not for the purpose of quarreling over opinions. Some believe in eating anything, while the weak eat only vegetables. Those who eat must not despise those who abstain, and those who abstain must not pass judgment on those who eat; for God has welcomed them” (Romans 14:1-3).
Think this might work on Facebook posts? In our relationships? Maybe we can listen more than rant, and expand our knowledge and the amount of grace floating around.
Kick Starting the Application
What are you doing to expand your knowledge? In what areas do you focus your learning? Can you identify an area to grow in? What is your hot button issue on matters of opinion? Is this a direct command of God, or an interpretation or opinion? Is the disagreement worthy of causing division, based on the verses above? Do your words and tone of voice express love?