In the previous article, we looked at a couple of verses from John 7:32-52, where Pharisees dismissed facts that others were presenting to them, claiming that consensus among them had essentially settled the matter. Said another way, their implication was that, since the facts didn’t match their previous conclusions, the direct observations of others (about Jesus’ teachings) weren’t even worth considering.
However, early teachers of the good news about Jesus Christ don’t seem to have required others to believe them just because they said so. If the apostles could present their message to Agrippa and Festus (Acts 24-26), as well as to the Greeks at Mars Hill (Acts 17:16-34), it sounds like they weren’t afraid of engaging in healthy debate. This wasn’t a “take it or leave it” approach. They genuinely wanted others to find the truth.
As a counter-example to the Pharisees in John 7, though, see John 7:25-31, as well as John 7:40-44, where others were considering what Jesus was saying and doing, and comparing this to what they knew of the promised Messiah. Although it seems that some of their knowledge of Scripture was not first-hand (and may have been mixed with traditions), they had some honest conversation about it…unlike the Pharisees in this chapter. Some of those people found the truth in Jesus Christ, choosing to follow what they could observe to be true (regardless of “conventional wisdom” or their own previous beliefs).
But many of the crowd believed in Him; and they were saying, “When the Christ comes, He will not perform more signs than those which this man has done, will He?”
John 7:31 NASB2020
So, in light of this chapter of John, let us consider whether we are dismissive of others and marginalize them. Do we ignore what certain other people say because we don’t like them or disagree with them on some other point? If the apostle Peter needed to be corrected (on multiple occasions: see Matthew 16:21-28, Acts 10:9-23, and Galatians 2), surely other followers of Jesus should be open to the possibility that some of their understanding or practices could be incorrect (as measured against God’s Word). If even a foundational apostle – one who walked with Jesus – needed correction on spiritual matters, how much more could we be wrong on less-important topics, especially where the Bible doesn’t talk specifically about them?
And, for those who haven’t yet studied the Bible, I think that we can still agree that the day we stop learning is the day “intellectual entropy” sets in. If we are so arrogant as to thing we know everything (whether as individual or as a society), we can expect to be laughed at by future generations, who will know better.
I’m not saying that all your beliefs are wrong. However, if you’re human (like me), at least something you hold to is probably incorrect (whether or not others know that yet, or not). Just because another person is wrong on one point, doesn’t mean that everything they say is false. Find sources of truth (I recommend the teachings and person of Jesus Christ), and seek out kind conversations with others. Perhaps, by not being immediately judgmental, or picking apart a minor point in another person’s claim, we will not only learn something from them, but also have the opportunity to tell them why we believe things that are important to us.
Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. Copyright by The Lockman Foundation.