Monday, November 6, 2017

Carbide Heart

When you listen to a teaching or read a book ... and the teaching is hard. What do you do with the lesson?


But first, this is the song of my heart lately:


Okay, back to the idea of what happens when the teaching du-jour GRATES on your heart. You do NOT like it, agree with it, etc. What do you do?

Some of my tools have carbide tips. This bit of carbide is incredibly hard and makes the tool or blade much longer-lasting. An example: if you have a regular nailer or stapler and you use it to put on a composite-shingle roof, you will probably need to replace the tip after just one roof because the hard, rough surface of the shingles will wear it out. But if it's a hard-weld or carbide tip, then you're all good, because the carbide tip won't have been scratched all to pieces by the sharp, rough roofing surface. The carbide tip is untouched.

I have other tools that are made of softer metals, like aluminum. If I want to scratch my initials into an aluminum speed-square, it's no problem--the metal will yield to my manipulations.

So in the context of hard teaching, the question is this: when is it right to be carbide, and when is it right to be aluminum?

It's not an easy question! If I have a carbide heart, pride is crouching at my door. The Bible says "Do you see a person wise in their own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for them."  It's easy to see this, right?  If I am reading a book or listening to a teaching and all the while saying to myself "No, it's wrong; this message has nothing for me; I will not listen; I will not change..." then it's very probable that I'm acting in pride or at least oriented that direction.  It's not good.

On the other hand, if I don't guard myself from false teaching, then I'm also violating Scripture: "continually be on your guard so as not to be led astray by the false teaching..."  That's clear, too.  I need to read and listen with a filter in place, constantly testing ideas to see how they mesh with Scripture and my own experience with things of God.

Here's my own solution.  (I'm curious what you have done about this problem, too.)  I swap out different mental filters depending on whom I'm receiving from.  

Small Filter
When I'm visiting a church and sitting under a message from a teacher I don't already know, the filter I use is a small-diameter screen.  If the things that are coming from the pulpit are matching my understanding, then I accept them (of course!--there's no conflict!).  If what is being said seems a little sideways, I put it aside.  Sometimes I'll quarantine an idea to examine later, sometimes I'll quarantine an idea with no intention to ever come back to it, and sometimes (very rarely) I'll quarantine an idea with the intention of providing push-back in some way.  I'm not going to let my carbide-tipped heart get dented/scratched by just anybody!

Large Filter 
But.  When the person speaking to me is one that I've given authority to in my life, such as my pastor or my friends, then the stuff that I allow "in" can be much larger in diameter.  I allow these thoughts in and they have the right to displace my own opinions.  I'm "dented" by thoughts I didn't agree with, but which are presented by an author or speaker who has the authority to dent or scratch my beliefs.  I don't show the carbide heart to these people--that wouldn't be wise.

But here's the challenge.  Do you have people in your life to whom you do show your malleable heart?  If you find that you resist instruction (teaching that changes your beliefs) and that uncomfortable teaching is always met with a small filter, a quarantine, and carbide heart, then my challenge to you is to find someone from whom you can trust to receive instruction from, and then actively turn your heart to be receptive.

Do I have teachers who are allowed to displace my ideas?  Yes.  If I'm reading one of them and they espouse an idea that I don't agree with, I take it very seriously.  I do not lightly set it aside into quarantine, but place my own idea into quarantine instead!

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