10That night the believers sent Paul and Silas to Berea. When they arrived, they went to the synagogue. 11The people of Berea were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, because they welcomed the word with great eagerness, and searched the scriptures daily to see whether these things were correct. — Acts 17:10-11
Yesterday I watched an episode of The West Wing, in which there was a scene of the president and his aids questioning a man who is a probable nominee for associate justice of the supreme court. The story is fictional, but there was a moment that expressed a very common truth. After he has been asked a number of pointed questions, the candidate says, â€œI’m not used to being questioned in this manner, and frankly, I find it offensive.â€
The various versions have some disagreement on translating the term I have translated â€œnoble-minded.â€ It is common to treat it as â€œopen-minded.â€ Paul has just left Thessalonica, where he was persecuted. On leaving such a scene and coming to a place where the word was received eagerly, one might think these new people were open-minded. And indeed they were. But there was something more. They didn’t just drink in whatever Paul and Silas had to say; they went and checked it out.
As the saying goes, don’t be so open minded that your brains fall out. The Bereans got the combination right. Take in new information eagerly. Test it all very careful to see whether it holds up.
One of my dreams is to see a congregation, a denomination, and then the whole Christian church become Berean. What does a Berean church look like?
I. Individual Bible study and prayer. Everyone spends time in the word of God on a regular basis. Everyone listens for new ideas, tests them, and presents the good ones to others. If a false teacher shows up, he or she will have to face questions. When true teachers teach, the members will learn more than they have even presented, because they take it home, look it up, and listen to the Lord.
II. Small groups are everywhere, because church time doesn’t provide enough opportunities to share what everyone is learning.
III. The church stays ahead of the world around it, because they serve one another, learn from one another, and their pastor and professional staff is not left to bear the entire load.
IV. â€œWe ain’t never done it that way before,â€ is rarely heard, and is ignored when it is.
V. New ideas that are bad get rejected, not because they are new, but because they are bad.
VI. The members live this way in their work and home life as well as at church, so the church impacts the community as its members change.
It starts with the ability to question positively. Most of the time when I speak I receive a number of compliments. Sometimes they are even extravagant. But I don’t let those have a large amount of impact. Why? People say those things to be polite. They may not even have heard the sermon or lesson I presented. I have received the compliments of angry people before.
But when someone comes up to me and says, â€œWhat you said about ____ really connected with my life,â€ I’m joyful because I know someone took what the Lord gave me and made it a larger impact than I could have planned in that person’s life. But I’m truly thrilled when someone says, â€œYou know what you said about ____? That doesn’t sound right to me because _____.â€ That means that they started to question, think, and look at scriptures because of what I said. They are on the Berean pathway.
How about aiming for a Berean lifestyle? Can you think of a way you can apply that to your work today?