It doesn’t take much to be a dissident to today’s society.
All it involves are two things:
1) Asking questions
2) Refusing to passively accept everything that we are told.
At an art museum, a dissident viewer is one who asks the guide, “Why, specifically, is this painting so famous and expensive? In all honesty, it does look like something my 8-year-old could do.”
In a university science class, it looks like this, “But professor, Darwin himself admitted that not just one, but many many ‘missing links’ would need to be found to confirm the accuracy of his theory. Given that, in all this time and with all the research put into it, we haven’t found one, what does this mean?”
Around the water cooler: “If Democrats and Republicans are so diametrically and radically different, why does nothing ever really change for the better, regardless of who is in control?”
At church: “I don’t agree with many points on the pastor’s last sermon, which isolated a few verses out of context, and seemed to be pushing me into behaving a certain way. If I choose to give my money to a woman I know whose electricity will be shut off if her bill isn’t paid, as opposed to writing a check to the church this month, am I really sinning?”
Don’t Shut Up
Many times, the response to our asking questions is a variation of,
“Shut up! You don’t know the full story, so you have no right to speak,” which totally ignores the fact that you were simply asking a question, not propounding an opinion.
When it comes to religious situations, we’re too full of grace to say, “Shut up,” but the second aspect — that you don’t know what you’re talking about so please leave the thinking up to me — still emerges.
People asking questions are dangerous, because they upset the status quo, and one of the best ways to silence potential troublemakers is to put them on the spot or ridicule them. Since most of us don’t relish looking like fools, this method is remarkably effective in squashing potential opposition.
Yes, We’re “Fools”
The apostle Paul, in 1 Corinthians, spends a significant amount of time comparing foolishness versus wisdom, from the perspective of humanity and that of God, and urges,
“If any one of you thinks he is wise by the standards of this age, he should become a ‘fool’ so that he may become wise.” (1 Corinthians 3: 18)
Jesus in John 15: 18-19 tells us,
“If the world hates, you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates, you.”
It will mock you, disparage you, discourage you, and ridicule you for the way you live and the questions you ask — and quite unfortunately, the world’s influence is not exempt from religious circles. For this reason, while it is important to interact with other Christians and encourage one another (which many people associate with church attendance), it is equally important to maintain a strong, independent, and private relationship with God.
This means that, while a pastor’s sermon or elder’s Sunday school class may provide enlightenment, teaching, and wisdom, it is not infallible, and the ultimate responsibility to read, and understand, God’s Word is yours. This isn’t as frightening as it sounds, because you have three powerful resources to accomplish this task:
1) The Holy Spirit lives within each and every Christian, and this Spirit of Truth “will guide you into all truth.” (1 John 16: 5)
2) You have an innate level of intelligence that enables you to analyze, critique, question, research, and learn.
3) You have a Bible written in the language that you speak. If this were the 13th century, and the only Bible in town were written in Latin, which you don’t read, there would be justification in the accusation that, “You don’t know what this book says.” Do not allow this sentence to be replaced by, “You don’t have seminary training or a PhD in theology, so you really don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Christians: we’re supposed to be salt. Salt changes the flavor of the food around it. This means that there’s no way we can jump into the stew without changing the way it tastes.
Ask. Seek. Knock. This command from Matthew 7: 7 isn’t limited to the people at the top of the pyramid. It’s directed to all of us.
Thank you for joining me at Commonsense Christianity; if you like what you read, I encourage you to subscribe (top right, menu bar).
If you are a Christian, the world needs you, doing whatever it is God asks you to do each day — and you won’t know what work He has for you if you don’t ask Him. You are an important, valued, and precious member of God’s family — regardless of how unimportant you look by conventional human standards. Remember — God thinks differently than we do, and the closer we draw to Him, the more He can teach us to think this way as well.
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