Church leaders have the ability to steer a congregation every Sunday morning with their words and their interpretation of scripture. It’s imperative that Bible teachers employ sound doctrine and be in tune with what the Holy Spirit says about the text in question.
But what about you and I, the regular folk sitting in chairs — possibly coffee and donut in hand — hearing all that’s coming from the pulpit? Do we just absorb it all, heads bobbling up and down in the pews, maybe blurting out the occasional “amen” to keep everything moving? We have brains (or we should, at least), and if that’s the case, we’ll probably interpret what’s being taught and respond accordingly.
I’ve already listed five responses people have to the gospel, but Sundayers likewise have a variety of reactions to the weekly Sunday message. In today’s reading, Paul instructs a couple of groups with differing responses. Where do you fit in?
Eager to accept
Teachers love it when their hearers respond positively to their textual interpretation. Wouldn’t you? By no means should that be your motive to accept any teaching, but hearing a presentation of the truth should naturally evoke high regard and unity. This requires us, however, to be inclined to listen in the first place. If we come in with preconceptions about how lackluster the message was last week, we’ll be less likely to receive what’s being taught.
Position of persuasion
Some of us are a little tougher than others. At Thessalonica, Paul used impressive rhetoric to get his audience to pay attention and accept his message. We the church can be a nasty folk, however, demanding to be convinced from anyone willing to open a text, only allowing what’s being taught to penetrate our hearts if it happens to decode the screen lock we set beforehand. I’m all for checking veracity, but you shouldn’t listen with your arms already crossed — without question, you won’t hear anything at all, no matter how compelling the speaker.
Sometimes, church can get ugly. Like the Jews mentioned in Thessalonica, all it takes is a few big talkers to round up “evil men” and attack the house of God. Typically this isn’t done in a raucous fashion today compared to the situation in Thessalonica — it happens in subtlety, behind closed doors and via subversive Facebook messaging. A disagreeable stance on a teaching can have devastating effects and ruin the assembly entirely if we can’t control our impulse to twist a message and let our tongues cast fire.
Bein’ the Berean
Ah, the Bereans. We like to venerate these guys because, instead of taking Paul’s words at face value, they go home and examine the Scriptures themselves to see if what he said was true. We should always see to it that we verify the sturdiness of any doctrine by studying at the Bible for ourselves, but not at the expense of distrust or malicious intent. In most cases, your pastor works hard to prepare each week — it isn’t our job to scrutinize and debunk the Sunday sermon, assuming the pastor is indeed upholding the word of truth. But yes, please, read it for yourself.
Do you fit into any of these categories, or are you a maverick of a sort? How do you respond to Bible teaching?