Though I did not become suspicious of everything my family and friends told me, I did learn the value of approaching Bible study as the noble Bereans who “…received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11). The significance of this cannot be overstated. These people were hearing the word of God from the mouth of a holy apostle (Eph. 3:1-5) who could perform miracles by the power of the Holy Spirit (Heb. 2:3-4; cf. Acts 19:11-12), yet they searched the Scriptures to see if he was being truthful. It is interesting to note they were not chided for a lack of trust, but instead they were commended for their dedication to verifying God’s will.
Sadly, very few religious thinkers commend such attitudes toward Scripture today. Indeed, most of them condemn the kind of Bible student who refuses to take the word of a “pastor”, theologian, or influential family member representing this church or that one. Nonetheless, the record still stands, and we ought to follow the example of the noble Bereans regardless who is claiming to speak the word of God. This hostile attitude toward challenging people’s beliefs should come as no surprise as Paul clearly taught “…all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (2 Tim. 3:12).
We know the word of God has been verified by the supernatural events used to corroborate it (Heb. 2:3-4; Mk. 16:20). Thus, the only one who deserves our unswerving trust is the God of heaven. This is truly a difficult mindset to foster as family ties and friendships have a strong influence in our lives. One of the most difficult things I had to do upon the realization that my family was missing the mark was to openly embrace the truth when it conflicted with their beliefs and teachings. I learned firsthand the conflict within the family when one embraces biblical teachings regardless of family traditions. As the Lord said, “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be those of his own household” (Mt. 10:34-36).
At one point, I was willing to shirk the plain teaching of the Bible concerning the salvation of my soul because I had such a blind devotion to my family. The folly of this thinking is evident from Jesus’ teachings in Mt. 10:37-38 when He said “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.” At the end of the day, we must trust but verify what any person is trying to teach us concerning the word of God, regardless of our relationship to them.