When I was younger I used to think I had to understand everything in order to preach or teach it. Unfortunately, all too many of us continue to feel that way and use that as reason for not taking on teaching a class or small group, or even sharing our faith in Christ. We’re afraid we might position ourselves where we will be asked questions and don’t know the answers. Have you been reluctant to take a step of faith because you didn’t feel you knew enough to satisfy the questions still bouncing around in your own head? I felt that way when approaching my current district leadership position.
I have been very captivated with 1 Peter 1:10-11 (NIV) Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. That took courage to give prophecies about salvation and grace while not even understanding them. Would you have the nerve to do that?
I suspect all of us have made statements that made sense when talking to our friends or family then later discovered our words meant far more than we thought. In the last 24 hours I commented on a slightly misguided statement someone had made. While doing so, I noted that what I said had never even entered my mind before saying it. Yet something within me resonated my statement was true. I knew it had come out of my spirit rather than out of my mind or emotions.
The prophets in this passage did not understand what they prophesied but they had the integrity to acknowledge they did NOT understand. Admirably, they understood the Spirit was anointing them to speak, but instead of putting their own spin on the words, they “searched intently and with the greatest care” to gain more knowledge of them. It was then revealed to them the words they had been anointed to speak were not even about them or their generation but for generations to come!!! What might have happened if they had dogmatically taught their assumed speculations of what the Spirit had meant in the words given them? They would have misguided many through the centuries.
It is important that we try to minister in faith. This means we may not fully understand the message we have been given yet can minister with humility remaining open to additional insights new to us. Can we have peace with not fully understanding yet have the courage to teach, preach or share what we have found to be true? How might that more noble approach to teaching controversial doctrines allow for there to be less divisions in the body of Christ? How might that approach provoke others to maintain a searching heart to seek to learn more from God’s Word and have attentive “ears” for what the Spirit may want to say to us? How might that approach minimize conflicts in relationships, especially in our marriages? Such humility is vital to authentic Christianity.
I desire to have greater integrity and transparency in order to enjoy deeper peace within when I minister. But I also want to provoke a hunger within others to study and learn more from God and His Word about things they don’t fully understand. I wish I would have learned this truth earlier in my life!