The first time I heard the term “predestination,” I was sitting in a Sunday School class for teens at a Southern Baptist Church. The teacher explained how and why it was a theological error.
That went right over my head.
It didn’t go right over my head.
I didn’t like it. I didn’t like the idea that some were predestined for salvation, and some – many – weren’t. It seemed to box the work of the cross into something less than it was.
Only later did I understand what my real problem was: the idea of predestination was un-American. It went against everything I had learned in civics and American history. It implied that all of us were not created equal, that some of us had a “predestined edge.”
Unfair, I thought. Grossly unfair.
I was letting my culture do my thinking for me. I was allowing the other Christians around me to influence my thinking, and listening more to them, and myself, than I was seeing what God’s word actually said.
I’m not alone, as it turns out. In The Discipline of Grace, Jerry Bridges says that most Christians “live according to the standard of conduct of Christians around us. We not only have morality by consensus, we have sanctification by consensus. We expect to become holy by osmosis, by the absorption of the ethical values of our Christian peer group.”
What we don’t do is turn to God’s word.
Well, Jerry, let’s just heap a little pile of burning coals on my head.
Perhaps more than a little pile.
If we are to make progress in pursuing holiness, he says, then we have to “aim to live according to the precepts of Scripture.”
Not the culture.
Not even the Christian culture.
And the only way to do that, to develop what he calls a set of Bible-based convictions, is to read, study and inhale the Scriptures. Delight in them. Meditate on them.
And the meditation on Scripture is a discipline. From that discipline will come transformation. And in case you didn’t realize it, Bridges reminds us that this takes work.
All those coals are leaving my hair singed.