Make Your Circle Bigger
|Image Source: Phil Coffman|
As a sports fan, it is natural to think that the team you support has the best players and the best strategies. Luckily, as a Liverpool fan, I have the stats to back up this claim.
Jokes aside, it is easy to surround ourselves with people who share our beliefs. This reinforces our beliefs and closes ourselves off to new points of view.
Someone once accused me of constantly looking at the world through red-tinted glasses as a Liverpool fan. This means that no matter what new information I was presented with from supporters of other clubs, I would still hold the same beliefs as before because I interpreted the new information through my red-tinted glasses.
How often do we see the world through our Christian-tinted glasses or our Methodist/Four12/Baptist/Shofar/insert-your-denomination-here tinted glasses?
We tend to only read books and articles written by people who share our theological beliefs, we only follow people on social media who perpetuate similar beliefs and we surround ourselves with people who constantly stroke our egos.
The problem with this approach is that our views about God, the world, ourselves and each other becomes narrow and our spiritual growth becomes stagnant and stale.
We should not be so unsure of our beliefs that we get swayed by every breeze that blows by, but we need to at least be willing to listen to and learn from people from all contexts, backgrounds and belief systems.
I believe that this practice is useful for all aspects of life. If you are a white male, try to spend regular time with people from different contexts to your own. If you are a theologian, try to read John Wesley, C.S. Lewis, Rob Bell and Richard Rohr as well as John Calvin, Andrew Selley, Tim Keller and Desiring God. If you are a Liverpool fan, try to befriend a Manchester United supporter (As difficult as this might seem).
An extremely liberating experience for me has been following people on twitter from a wide variety of belief systems: Jews, Atheists, Progressive Christians, Evangelicals and Yogis. While I might not agree with everything that they post, I have learnt so much about life and God through this practice. My faith has matured more than it ever did when I was only surrounding myself with a small group of Methodists that I found it convenient to meet with.
Instead of filling our lives with people from our own denomination or religion, let us try to find people to interact with who disagree with us and challenge our beliefs. We might be surprised by what we learn and how much we grow because of it.
When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, "Will you give me a drink?"
- John 4:7