I remember as a kid always wanting to be a lawyer. I would tell my parents that when I get older I was going to be a lawyer, make large amounts of money, and take care of them with that money. At that point in my life a lawyer was something anyone could be if they wanted. Unfortunately, I will probably never become a lawyer, and my mom is going to have to live in a nursing home one day. :) (My mom said she would kill me if I ever did that to her.)
I recently read a great book for the second time in my life. It is called The Alchemist written by Paulo Coelho, a Brazilian writer. The book is about a shepherd who lived life by following his heart. He was not a crazy person. He was not rebellious, mean, or arrogant. However, he was thought of as unique and different by the people around him. When coming into new towns he always had exciting stories to tell from all his traveling as a shepherd. See, the shepherd was growing up having the same belief as when he was a child, that anything can happen if you really want it. As he got older he did not let life and the people around influence what he wanted to do. He continued to believe that if he wanted something he could have it. He was given the challenge of traveling to the Pyramids in Egypt and finding a buried treasure. Despite what people told him along the way, or whatever got in his way, he never gave up on his dream. Even a dream as crazy as a buried treasure. He just did not simply believe what people said, he choose to see for himself the truth behind the treasure.
I still remember today thinking that way as a child. Like the time I started to build a roller coaster in the field in front of my house. I did not finish it, but it was not because I believed I couldn’t, I just got bored and started to think of the next great thing I COULD do. Now granted, some things I thought of as a child were crazy and probably will not ever happen in life no matter how much I believe it. Like jumping off a shed with a towel on my back and starting to fly, but I had to discover that for myself.
Today, as I think back on life I can not think of when all of that changed. At some point in my life I started to believe what people around me told me, what my environment told me, and what my culture told me. I believed that I would never be a lawyer because I was not smart enough in school or part of the right family. I was told that things that sounded exciting to do in life will probably never happen because you will not have the money. I was taught that a certain way of living was right and everything else was unrealistic.
I find it amazing how much we let life and things around us influence how we live and how we think. It is natural. Even today, certain things we once thought of as wrong are being considered right because of our surrounding. When I came to China many people told me I was crazy. They were so worried by the things they have heard about the people and the culture. Movies, news, history, and media created an idea of how things are here today. Now granted, some were true, but the people here did no fly in the air or can do 50 karate kicks in one jump. They do not all like rice. They do not all wear silk clothes with the pointed hat on their head. However my culture told me how it was, so I believed. The funny thing is that now I have to defend America against unrealistic ideas the Chinese have about us. I will be honest, Gossip Girls has really not helped.
As a Christian or just someone who believes in God, we like to believe things are a certain way because people around us tell us how it is, how culture tells us it is, or we even choose to believe a certain way so we can feel safe or right. Some people blindly believe what they are told or hear without going to the source to see what it really says. Much like how coming to China showed me that it is nothing like we make it out to be. I had to search and seek the truth for myself.
I am reminded of Acts 17:11. Paul, the same Paul who wrote most of the New Testament we follow today, was speaking to the Bereans. The Bereans here could have simply believed what Paul was saying, but they choose to EXAMINE the scripture to see if what Paul was saying was true. PAUL!!! Examining the words that PAUL told them!!! This is not any everyday person! This is Paul, the apostle! The same Paul that was blinded by Christ, and then healed! The same Paul that was given the job of taking the Word to the Gentiles! This Paul could perform miracles! Paul was taking beatings for this Word he was teaching!! Who are they to question Paul? They were simply men trying to discover truth and not blindly believing what they hear. Personally, I think if it is alright for men to question “Paul”, then why is not okay to question others who speak about the Word? To simply discover and see what they say is true. And I do not mean to try and prove them wrong but to make sure what you have heard is true.
I challenge you not to simply go through life blindly believing everything you are told. And don’t take what I am saying the wrong way, I am not saying don’t trust people or ever believe people. We have many things we can learn from the people around us. However, take additional time to DISCOVER the truth behind what you hear. It could be something as simple as trying sushi for the first time. (I know, raw fish, how can it ever taste good) It could be traveling to a foreign country to really see how other people live. Or it could be moving to a new city despite living in one place your whole life.