Foundational and Established Belief

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Continued Conversation on the Recipe of Influence

For good or ill, I have a deep-seeded love for Dr. Suess.  This love and fascination with Whos, elephants that hatch eggs, and hwatch watchers was instilled as a child.  I remember my mother in the kitchen washing dishes and reciting the story of Horton Hatches the Egg and knowing when to turn the pages even before I could read the word “egg.”

In very different ways I still maintain a love for the whimsical characters (even naming my dog Whimsy because she looks Seussian to me).  No doubt the morals and values that are taught through those works of gold have colored my life in ways that I am probably not even aware of.

What does the Grinch have to do with foundational and established belief?  You may not need to know that I love Dr. Seuss, but you do need to know about my love for fun and humor to really understand what makes me tick.  Those values have become part of my foundation, much in the same way that the stories of the Bible have created a firm framework for my belief and faith.  To speak to me about belief means to have an understanding of that established belief.

That understanding is especially important when attempting to influence someone in their faith.  What is their foundational belief about life, meaning, and everything?  Did he have a distant relationship with his father and will that relationship influence an attempt to relate to a heavenly father?  Was she raped and what impact will that have on her belief in a virgin giving birth?  Did he grow up in a home where he was taught another religion; how will that set of beliefs impregnate his belief in Jesus and the God of the Bible?

This level of involvement requires work on our parts.  It may mean reading an atheist’s blog and listening to lectures by Richard Dawkins to learn what drives their fervent belief in science.  It also requires challenging our own beliefs in light of evidence and logic presented.  It may simply mean reading the Bible again with the eyes of those who are so hurt by its message either because of misintrepretations preached on television or simply by well-meaning Christians who are unaware of how damaging their human views are, even if they are based on an understanding of Scripture.

Ultimately it means setting ourselves aside and really understanding those who we are called to love by the One we serve.  Research in psychology is showing us that people would rather be understood than be right, and that understanding opens people to consideration of change.

Become Christ’s change agent in your world: listen and understand.

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About Aaron Gardner

Aaron is a counselor and student of the Bible, passionate about sharing the good news of Jesus Christ. He lives in central Indiana with his wife, one-year-old son and their two dogs. View all posts by Aaron Gardner

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