Seeing our own problem of Christians and bias may sound hard but actually it is even harder. First, let’s consider how Jesus viewed it.
In John 8:28 Jesus says he does nothing on his own but only what the Father tells Him. Jesus was without sin and relied completely on the Father’s better perspective. Jesus very strongly faced his potential bias. How about us?
Nicodemus was a highly educated member of the Jewish leadership. To Nicodemus, he said, “You must be born again.”
To the disciples he said in Luke 18:17 that we all must be like little children to enter the kingdom of God.
Understanding Christians and Bias-A Broader View
The Arbinger Institute wrote a great book called Leadership and Self Deception. In that leadership parable they note that everyone is self-deceived. The only difference is some are self-aware to the problem and others are not.
My wife and I have lived in three different geographies and started house churches in each. In 2005 we started one in Beijing. My wife thought up the name, 10245 Church. Some people guessed it was the badge of the police officer who investigated our church. 🙂
Actually, it represents Hebrews 10:24,25. It says,
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
In the only command to fellowship in the New Testament the author emphasizes a mutual event twice. So, if I go to church and sing the songs and listen to the pastor and go home, I have not obeyed the command and neither has the pastor. Why do you suppose God made it so mutual? I see that he understands our bias problem. We need to hear from others to get the full counsel of God’s perspective. In the push and shove of discussion, we can overcome our bias hopefully.
How Could Groups Help?
If 5 Pentecostal Christians mutually meet together, it has some benefit. How about if one Pentecostal, one Baptist, one Presbyterian, one Quaker, and one Nazarene? Each of these agree to all the many articles of the Apostle’s Creed. That is a lot to agree on. I am afraid few of us could handle such a meeting despite our vast common base. We could not simply enjoy agreeing on the main things. We might struggle to have friendly discussions on how to use water in water baptism for example. Could we? Think, however, how it could help us see our biases and respect these others. Every denomination emerged and grew as they saw something that was true. Why could we not do Bible study with them and say have the Quaker lead as they are experienced in mutual meetings? Cannot we not agree that God is bigger than our narrow personal understanding?
I hate to say it, but it appears we are highly committed to our individual Christian biases.
At least if 5 Baptists get together you could possibly have two genders and say 4 different personalities. It is the differences that help expose our biases. We need to hear how others view things as we are so caught up in our own prejudice.
All of Us Must See Christians and Bias
I learned when I was 26 that it is impossible to read the Bible objectively. It was quite a shock to first hear and accept this. I always thought I was the most objective in a very objective parachurch (Navigators).
If we are all unavoidably reading the Bible subjectively as have our own family background, personality, interests, etc…, then how can we find the true God? Surely, we need the Holy Spirit as Jesus said he would lead us into all truth.
We need each other, and we need a lot of humility to say that many things we do not know, and some of what we do know is likely wrong. At about age 26 I learned to say, “I could be wrong.” It has helped me stay married. 🙂
Let’s Be Open if Not the Main Thing
In China, most Christians can only do Communion if they have bread without yeast. They see it is sacrilegious to use common bread. I cannot believe that the main point of Communion is the raw material used. Surely, it is the spirit in which we do it that is the main thing, right? They would likely say “yes, but.”
Thus, the blog, Main Thing. We are so bad at hearing God that we really need each other and must have humility to say, “I could be wrong.”
When I was still in college, A wiser older man saw me disputing and took me aside and shared Romans 14 with me.
Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters. 2 One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. 3 The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them. 4 Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand.
The Main Things Are Clear-All Else Disputable
The more I study, the more I realize just how many things are disputable. I do not need to argue with people who think we need bread without yeast for Communion. The Bible is silent on this matter, so it is disputable and not the main thing anyway. That is why God did not make it explicit. He would have made it clear if it was a main thing. See also The Cross-The Main Thing.
Seeing your bias on Google has a lot of good thought interestingly.
Politics and TV and Our Biases
From a political point, do you watch Fox News? Would it be better to watch MSNBC half the time and half the time Fox News? The truth should be somewhere between those two biased outlets. However, people do not go near half and half as we love to coddle our biases. We somehow want to think our church, our TV station, and our political party are all Truth. We feel that way as it is uncomfortable to not think that way. I do not recall Jesus telling us to seek faith, hope, and comfort. Yes, we need to love our brothers and sisters and learn from them, as God said fellowship should be mutual, but that is often uncomfortable.
God Bless all the faithful. May we all be more aware of our biases and not coddle ones that are not the main thing. At minimum, may we glory in our diversity and in how much bigger God is than we know today.