As the New Year begins I urge everyone to be open to learning. Do not close your mind, because the New Year will bring new challenges requiring new knowledge.
Think about this. The knowledge gained by everyone commencing a science degree this year, will be obsolete by the time they finish their course.
This dilemma of learning in environments of change was beautifully summarised by the moral and social philosopher, Eric Hoffer, when he said:
“In times of change learners inherit the earth; while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.” (Eric Hoffer)
But is this situation also relevant to the pursuit of the knowledge of Jesus Christ? After all, Christianity has been around now for two millennia. It has been extensively examined by countless people and surely everything that can be known is already known.
But is it?
Diversity of faith
If you look at any church, or for that matter most Christian websites, you will find a great diversity of beliefs and opinions.
Some believe you must be baptised, but others do not. Some believe in the gifts of the Holy Spirit while others reject them. Some believe you must come to Christ through faith alone, while others say works are more important. Some believe speaking in tongues was only for the first century church, while others believe it is just as important for today. And the list goes on…
The biggest challenge facing all Christians today is trying to sift the wheat from the chaff in all of these teachings to learn the truth and to discard the error.
This problem is further compounded by human nature.
Many people reject what they don’t understand. A strange or diverse teaching is often rejected simply because it is new or different. This is true for the vast majority of people until the idea becomes mainstream.
To use a marketing analogy, in the development of new products and services the adoption process is well documented. For the most part it is not about adopting the “product” but adopting the “idea of the product.” It goes something like this:
- The first group to adopt whatever “it” is are called “Innovators.” They typically represent about 2.5% of the market.
- The second group to adopt “it” are the “Early adopters” and they represent around 13.5% of the market.
- The third group are the “Early majority” (around 34% of the market)
- The fourth group are the “Late majority” (another 34% of the market)
- And the fifth and final group are the “Laggards” who are the remaining 16%
The innovators and the early adopters are the thought leaders on whatever idea is being presented. If only they accept the new idea, it won’t gain wide acceptance and can die before it gains a foothold.
It is not until the early and late majorities come on board with any idea, that an idea becomes widely accepted. This also includes new church teachings and doctrines.
As for the laggards, they will always be resistant to change. They only change when there is no other option. They are the people who would still use analogue phones, if they were available, and only moved to a digital phone because the analogue system has been shut down. They are probably also the same people who would still prefer a mass to be spoken in Latin.
Being open to learn
But if we are to find the truth of anything, especially Christian teachings, we must be open to learn. We must be prepared to listen and not reject a teaching or doctrine just because it is different.
Any new teaching may be a relevant truth or an uncovered truth of which we were previously unaware. It must be tested and measured by the doctrines of Jesus Christ and the New Covenant to ascertain whether it should be added to our storehouse of knowledge, or rejected.
Just because an early adopter or innovator brings forth an idea, does not make it sound or right. But if we don’t listen and test the idea, we will never know and may be missing something important. After all, how can we sift out truth from error, good from evil?
We should seek guidance and clarity with any new teaching. As Jesus taught us, we need to pray and ask God for insight.
"Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For every one who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. (Matthew chapter 7, verses 7 and 8)
This verse contains a promise. It does not say you “might” receive, but that you WILL receive.
So be open to learn and listen to new teachings, asking the Lord for clarity. He has promised that you will find the truth if you seek diligently.
Since retiring from work, John Lemmon now spends his time teaching, preaching and writing about the word of God, online and offline, answering God's call on him to “Speak to my people.” You can connect with John on Twitter (@JohnBLemmon) or on his website: freegiftfromgod.com/ or listen to his podcast on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/au/podcast/the-free-gift-from-god-podcast/id1440682375