Too often we Christians are isolated in our own little groups and insulated from other perspectives even within the church. Just as inbreeding in animals and humans leads to decreased mental and physical abilities, insulation from other wise voices leads to weakness spiritually and often practically.
When we hear a wider range of voices than only those of like-minded friends or leaders in our local congregations or denominations, we often gain wise counsel.
But you may say, “Isn’t that dangerous?” Actually it strengthens us if we approach it through God’s Word. Otherwise, our theological/social/political/racial blinders prevent us from seeing the world and other people as God does, and that is more dangerous. The trick is to work through our own beliefs and biases through the scriptures when we are challenged. Yes, it’s work, and yes, it’s much easier to enjoy hiding together in comfort.
Proverbs 11:14 speaks to a nation, but it also applies to the church and individuals. Wise counsel comes from many places and helps us find our way: “Without good direction, people lose their way; the more wise counsel you follow, the better your chances” (The Message).
I grew up in a church and home where other denominations were criticized and dismissed. It has taken years for me to see the bias that prevented me from recognizing their strengths. To get me there, God put me in several uncomfortable places where I interacted with people from a variety of theologically orthodox traditions. (Orthodox means holding to the historic church creeds).
I moved away from fearing them to valuing their insights in many areas. Their wisdom has honed my thinking, and I have been personally humbled by expressions of their love for Christ. There are times when we disagree, but there are often times when their input causes me to see things differently, with much more wisdom.
Ask yourself these questions:
- How isolated am I from believers who aren’t like me in their thinking, backgrounds, or race?
- How often do I seek out Christian perspectives that differ from my own and genuinely consider them? Or do I dismiss their ideas because they make me angry or afraid?
- Name several friends or reading sources that you go to in order to gain wisdom for life and issues in the church, country, and world that matter to God.
In an era of tribes which dismiss outsiders’ perspectives, it’s essential for believers to seek wisdom outside their own group or risk acting and speaking in ways that God calls foolish. This practice is even more essential for leaders/influencers who are more responsible before God.
To influence others in your community, family, or workplace, read widely and glean wisdom from multiple sources and many voices. Never settle for comfortable and easy voices alone. Reject what doesn’t align with God’s Word. Then take the good, and ask God to replace the preconceived and faulty thinking that blinds you with his wisdom.