At the Atlanta Dream Center, we are pretty serious about the Bible. Each week as a staff we take time together to go over tough topics that we either grew up being taught or we have read during our studies and together we wrestle with the things we are reading.
The idea is to make sure we are on the same page when it comes to the Bible, but it also allows us to speak in the same language.
I hope you understand that I don’t mean that some of us speak other languages other than English, but rather, we speak the same language differently within English. An easy way to explain this would be to us the sentence, “Carl is sick”. That can mean a few different things. It can mean that Carl is a pervert like a John or someone who is pro-human trafficking. It can mean Carl is ill and is in need of medicine or healing. It can also mean Carl is awesome, or rad and we all want to be like him. Our language is complex and ever-growing and changing.
As a staff we have found an incredible amount of language in our faith. This makes conversations very long and repetitive when we talk about the subjects in the Bible. A great example is using the sentence “I have a right to healing as a Christian”. Everyone on our staff believes that divine healing is real. We all believe that healing is something God can and does do. But that sentence above was a doozy. We spent one hour talking over each other, interrupting, saying, “I completely disagree” and “where in the Bible does it say that?” to one another. I can assume some of us left feeling a little frustrated from the meeting. Not at each other as much as being frustrated with the feeling of not being able to fully communicate clearly to one another because of language.
As the pastor, I left the meeting a little worn out. It was a lot of talking and listening and trying our best to stay on the subject without derailing.
I went home that night and took time with my wife and kids to just enjoy the day and weather. As I laid down on my bed I was filled with joy thinking about how tough that conversation was and how much we all benefitted from our talk. I felt wiser and my mind was filled with scriptures. I was better off after the conversation than before. Our discussion did something amazing to each of us individually. Each of us were sharpened.
I love what I have read by Mel Walker, “The concept of ‘iron sharpening iron’ obviously implies at least two pieces of iron.” Mel is right. It is implied that two people of the same make sharpen each other. If a piece of iron is left to itself it will become dull. Isn’t the same for us? As we find ourselves becoming people more and more isolated by society, money, new means of communication or for the pleasure of doing whatever we want, we find ourselves less challenged by other people’s thoughts and inputs. We build our live’s perspective around our experiences and what “makes sense” at the moment. You can see in our world everyday. The lack of sharpening has made opposing ideas into “lies from the opposing team” or worse, people who oppose our “side” are considered “idiots”. There is no longer a place for sharpening in the world, only competing in thought.
It should not be that way in the Church. In fact, that division is an abomination it says in Scripture. We should be eager to discuss our thoughts, ideas and problems we find.
But! The problem with sharpening each other is that it can hurt. It can make people angry. It can make YOU angry. Sharpening each other is full of friction.
As we were discussing in our meeting about our “rights” there was a lot of friction. moments were heated and tough. But that was what made it so good. That friction is what made me excited as I laid in my bed that night. My ideas were challenged. Some of my thinking was strengthen, and other parts of my thinking were changed. Mostly though, I learned to communicate important concepts clearly.
I found that we were humble enough and loved each other enough to have a disagreement and hear what the other thought, and in doing so it encouraged us to dig into the Bible, pray and to really stick out the conversation. I think everyone in the room was exhausted from the constant chipping away at each others thoughts, but I believe each of us left the meeting for the better. We were able to look at the scriptures really see what God said and shows us through His works. We didn’t just agree to disagree, but rather we came to the same conclusion and also came to a place of great friendship.
So! In conclusion I want to encourage you, get with a brother and sister in the Lord and sharpen each other. Tackle ideas and thoughts on the Bible you don’t tell other people. Let people question those ideas! Get into the scripture together. Let us not be satisfied with dullness in the word and work of Jesus, but rather let’s get together and cause friction and grow sharper daily!!
– Pastor Tommy