I am excited about the coming year at West Side. We have a lot of things in store for this coming year and so far an incredible line up of sermons planned. We began the year with Larry Holmes kicking off our series … “2011 Encountering Your Giftedness.” He used Rick Warren’s SHAPE principle to share that we all have spiritual gifts and that our shape defines how we use them. He did an awesome job.
Next week I have the privilege of preaching the first sermon on an individual gift, which is prophecy. This is one of those subjects that depending on the church you attend can have a different meaning. Because of that I am spending a ton of time in study. Last week I really began to dive into the study of this topic. I was speaking with our secretary and she said this topic had always been confusing to her. That left me with this response, “Had you asked me yesterday I would have given you an answer. Now after studying I am confused.”
Friends, that is the frustration of study. I have found several times that when I begin to do a thorough study of a topic or idea, before I figure it out, I get completely confused. It can be frustrating that what you thought you understood can be completely turned upside down by digging a little deeper. It makes you then begin to question other ideas, thoughts, and beliefs you may have formed off of your previous understanding. It can even open up new thoughts you never previously had.
While you may become confused, frustrated, and have things you once believed thrown out the window, there is beauty in that. You see that is what defines understanding of who God is and how you are to follow him. If you never study, but live your life according to what a preacher, Sunday School teacher, or some other person tells you, then you do not own your faith. You own your faith, you own your understanding because of your own thorough investigation of the evidence. You own your faith because you have come to a conclusion on your own merit, under your own understanding, based of what you have pieced together.
Having your understanding and faith challenged is a part of the process. The writer of Hebrews admonishes the reader to move from spiritual milk to meat. Friends, when we study, that is exactly what we are doing. And while it might be frustrating, there is beauty in it. Your faith, your understanding has become your own through the frustration. Owning your faith and understanding is beautiful.