|Mr. Pancks, who embraced the reproof of his friend|
-from BBC's Little Dorrit
Thursday, April 23, 2015
Please, Shake My Faith
God's children are precious to Him. He makes this clear in His word and with this verse in particular. The consequences of causing someone in The Faith to stumble will be severe, I'm sure. But the title of this blog post really has nothing to do with this verse. I began by quoting it so that we could get that fact out of the way.
As a believer in God's Word and in Jesus Christ as my Savior I have to confess that I've constantly wrestled with the issue of Truth. From the creation of the world, Satan twisted God's Word and His intent in speaking it in order to cause men and women to stumble. The sad part is, many people have succumbed to his deceit and fallen for "faiths" that are not rooted in truth. Even those in the Church who are actual children of God can fall prey to lies and begin to believe things that are not true. Their "faith" earnest though it may be, is rooted in doctrine that is false.
When someone is confronted with opposition to his "faith", it is not uncommon for him to resist it. Anger may rise. Emotions may threaten to get out of control. Relationships can even disintegrate all at the instigation of opposing beliefs. Some people fear this and actually shy away from conflicts such as this like it was a deadly plague. But I say, "Bring it on!".
Having my faith challenged has done nothing but cause me to dig deeper into the Word of God in order to know what is really true. And I've found that sometimes, I've placed my faith in a doctrine that is absolutely wrong. I spent the first twenty years of my life believing something that was wrong that I was taught in Sunday school as a child. My "faith" held me in the bondage of paralyzing fear. When I was in my early twenties, this matter came to an ugly head and dealing with it became a matter of life and death for me. How I wish someone had rocked my world earlier, and shaken my "faith" sooner. I think of all the years I lived in fear, dreading meeting God the Father and I wonder at the waste. How much praise was forsaken? How much joy?
God was kind to bring the error of my beliefs to a point where I had to deal with it. But after twenty years of believing what I was taught it was pretty engrained into my way of thinking. And it was difficult. I felt like I was betraying truth just for considering the opposing theological doctrine. But, when everything was stripped away, all I really ever wanted was the Truth, not a counterfeit. God did not want me to believe a lie either because to know the Truth is to know Him.
Charles Dickens wrote a book called Little Dorrit. I love the story and BBC did an excellent job of dramatizing the tale. One of the characters in the book is Mr. Pancks. He's a quirky little guy who's very smart, but he makes a very big mistake. He convinces Mr. Clennam to invest his money and the money of his company with Mr. Merdle, The Man of The Age. The investment turns out to be a very bad investment and Mr. Clennam looses everything. But Mr. Pancks, knowing he was wrong, does not just walk away. He goes directly to Mr. Clennam with great remorse for his advice and begs Mr. Clennam to express his displeasure saying, "Come on, at me again! At me again!". He desperately wants the confrontation because he feels so badly for his role in Mr. Clennam's ruin. He didn't want to plug his ears and run away from the confrontation. He didn't deny that he was wrong or insist that he was right merely because of the sincerity of his faith in his advice.
You may be wondering why on earth I'm bringing that scene up in this post. I love the scene because I can relate so well to Mr. Pancks' willingness to embrace the facts even if it exposes and highlights his error. The world would have you believe that truth is subjective, that you can hold to something you sincerely believe in even if others disagree with you and it will be true for you. It would have you believe that no one is ever wrong and that every thought or opinion is equally valid. But there is only One truth, and that Truth will set you free. It doesn't matter how passionately someone holds to his faith if his faith is wrong. Fervency and sincerity will not lend credibility to it in the end. Those who sincerely believe a lie will only be sincerely wrong in the end. I never want to be sincerely wrong, but if I am, I would beg for someone who knows the truth to shake my faith. In the spirit of Mr. Pancks I say, "Come on, at me again! At me again!"
One problem I see regarding this subject is that people seem to be to easily offended. I don't equate confrontation with personal attack. No one should. But I can't even begin to count all the times I've heard people say they "feel attacked" by others merely because someone in the church doesn't agree with them. Their pride gets in the way and they are unable to glean wisdom from listening to others.
God says, "As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another" (Proverbs 27:17). I've said it before, sometimes sparks are just gonna fly. But sparks do not necessarily indicate a battle or an attack. It might just be that God is chiseling away doctrinal error. Believers should embrace the privilege of speaking truth to each other, even when it takes some work in finding the common ground. After all, Jesus is the Truth, so if we are seeking to know Him, then we will not shy away from investigating what God's Word has to say about any given matter.
Please, shake my faith. I believe it's rooted in the Word of God because I've searched it out. You may have noticed something I've not yet noticed. It might even be something crucial. So go ahead and rock my world if you know something I don't know. But be advised, words and opinions do not hold weight with me just because of the sincerity of your "faith". It's got to be rooted in God's Word and it's got to be consistent with His character. And if you're wrong, be ready to have your faith shaken. Because sometimes when we think we are going to teach someone else something we know, God might just be bringing them into our circles so that we ourselves might be taught. Are you humble enough to listen or are you too proud or afraid to allow your faith to be shaken? If your faith is rooted in Truth, you have nothing to worry about. It will stand. But if it's rooted in something other than Truth, you still don't need to worry. The loss of an errant "faith" is nothing to mourn.