As I looked through the pictures a question came to my mind. I wondered whether very many of those folks have a good understanding of the truths that the church they're part of stands for.
I checked that out at the church I'm now part of yesterday by asking who had done "in depth research about the truth of the resurrection." 3 or 4 people raised their hands yes. Not a very high percentage. Probably all churches are about the same?
(I asked that question because I had prepared some paper copies of a piece on "Evidence for the Resurrection of Christ" and didn't have enough copies for everyone. I intended just to give it out to those who hadn't done the study. I had way less copies than I should have. You can find links to it, for reading online or printing, on our "Jesus" series webpage under the April 5 "Look Into It" message. I encourage you to check it out.)So, if all (or many) churches are the same in this, that is, that they are often populated by people who haven't done the challenging investigative work about their faith, it might be fair to ask if it's really necessary! Do Christians really need to study the basics their faith? Can't they just trust their leaders?
According to Ephesians 4, believers who haven't examined their faith can be tossed around by "every new teaching" instead of being mature and unified "in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God" (Ephesians 4:14). Because of that, relationships and feelings end up in the drivers seat. Christian believers end up gaining their confidence, even their confidence about the truth of their faith, more from the personal support of their friends than from personal knowledge or "conviction" of the truth. They are reluctant to share the faith boldly because there is an underlying uncertainty in their minds and hearts. They also tend to be drawn into disputes on details instead of focusing on big questions: Is Jesus God? Did Jesus really rise from the dead? Can we trust Him?
Now, though it's true that elders and others who are recognized as leaders bear a special responsibility for knowing things in depth, those leaders and teachers are supposed to help all believers come to mature and intelligent faith (Ephesians 4:11-16). The unity and togetherness of the local church (and beyond) then comes from the truth of God, not from personal relationships. The sad thing is that personal relationship connections can be founded on feelings or faith in carefully crafted lies (myths) just as much as on truth.
Yesterday, at the end of our worship time together, one of our elder women stopped me and said she had never heard a message on the the importance of evidence and truth on Easter Sunday. I wondered if she really remembers everything she's heard on every Easter during her 70 years in the church, but I know that much of what is preached and taught in churches is not really an encouragement for people to investigate truth. It's more often that Easter Sundays are just full of joy in having the flock together.
Pushing believers to study and learn is an important part of what Christian leaders need to be doing, even when it's not popular for them to do so. That's what we shared yesterday at Crossroads. I encourage you to look into it, but, even more, to look into the truth of God that stands up under the closest examination.
Here's a video resource presented by Gary Habermas that I looked at this week and found it helpful. The trouble with videos is that they are often convincing because of the speakers, so please be skeptical about this too. Check it out at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ay_Db4RwZ_M.