I had a conversation with a man who let me know he did not agree with me on a particular point of theology. He went on to say that he and his group were like the Bereans in the Book of Acts who searched the scriptures to see if people like me taught the truth. He dismissed me as someone living in error. I had hoped we could have built a bridge between us for a future relationship, but that did not happen.
That conversation took place a couple of years ago and just this week I was reading through Acts and came across the scripture my critic referenced. “And the people of Berea were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, and they listened eagerly to Paul’s message. They searched the Scriptures day after day to see if Paul and Silas were teaching the truth.” (Acts 17:11) I realized the man only quoted part of the verse. He forgot the part about being open-minded.
As I read verse 11, I found the part of the verse where it reads, “were more open-minded”, was also translated in different ways in various translations, but carried a similar understanding. Words like “more fair-minded” and “more receptive” were used to describe being open-minded.
I realized the man with whom I spoke is like many of us – we bring our bias of life and faith to our reading of God’s word. It is good to search the scriptures to see if what someone teaches lines up with truth, but in our searching for truth we must come to that search with an open, fair and receptive mind. If we don’t, we can end up sounding like the Pharisees who thought their view of life was the only true interpretation.
Jesus told the Jewish religious leaders of his day, “You search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to me!” (John 5:39) The next conversation you have with someone with whom you disagree make sure you approach that conversation with an open, fair and receptive mind to their opinion. The real test of truth is not discovered when we walk in lockstep, but when all our efforts point to the one who is Truth.