Learning from Unexpected Sources

It’s amazing what we can learn from the most unexpected sources if we just keep our spiritual ears open. I commend my pastor who this past weekend built his Father’s Day message around some quotes of well-known (though not necessarily Christian) men, from Albert Einstein to Dr. Seuss (i.e. Theodore Lesieg). Of course he tied their words back to Biblical truth, thus demonstrating that the person quoted was to some degree parroting the Word of God, though they probably had no idea they were.

I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that often I’ve felt compelled to confine my source material for wisdom to the Holy Scriptures; whereas God has imposed no such restriction on us. Has not God Himself used nonbelievers, as well as animals, flora, even inanimate objects to reveal knowledge to knowledge-seekers? So why do we feel so constrained? As long as the non-Scriptural source does not contradict the Word of God then we should have no fear in referencing it.

Many people seem less convinced and seem to be concerned that when I or other Christians quote a non-believer we’re endorsing everything they stand for. Not long ago I began one of my blogs with a Charles Darwin quote, whereby I then proceeded to demonstrate that even the man credited with advancing the theory of evolution himself harbored serious doubts as to its validity. Yet I don’t think the people that were critical of that blog read past the quote itself to discover the direction I was going.

This “problem” with receiving from our perceived adversaries is not confined to Christians. It extends to every segment of society. Republicans have a problem receiving anything from Democrats; liberals have a problem receiving anything from conservatives; Baptists have a problem receiving from Catholics; and a person from one racial or ethnic background has a problem receiving anything from a person of another racial or ethnic background.

It’s time we get past ignoring those who are different than us, who believe different than us and who take alternate positions on subjects that we consider important. We can learn something of value from nearly everyone. See, I believe that every human being, even atheists have something of God in them. Every human spirit was created to be conformed to the image of the Spirit of God, even as he or she continues to deny His existence or to rebel from Him. Precisely because they still carry this linkage with the Creator, they have the capacity for receiving and espousing His wisdom and knowledge, at least once in a while.

Throughout history mankind has benefitted not only from the scientific discoveries of non-believers such as Albert Einstein, but also from their wit. “When you are courting a nice girl an hour seems like a second. When you sit on a red-hot cinder a second seems like an hour. That’s relativity.” Of course I’m being facetious when I use the above quote.

On a more serious note, I was listening to a radio host the other day. I don’t recall the exact topic of discussion, but he said something that got me thinking. He said that everyone when they walk into a room is self-absorbed and worried about how they appear to everybody else and imagine that all the others in the room are looking at and judging them. Yet that couldn’t possibly be the case, because everyone else is just as self-absorbed in themselves as they are.

Because that man and I come from significantly different spiritual and economic backgrounds and our beliefs on a wide range of subjects vary, I could have ignored the man’s commentary on mankind’s natural tendency toward self-absorption. Yet I listened to his words; even meditated on their implication; and his words got me thinking. I concluded, what a wonderful thing it would be if I could change that paradigm in my life. Suppose whenever I walked into a room I could truthfully focus more on the other person and less on myself. What if I put my energy into seeking to find out where they’ve been, where they are now and what their needs are, with the motivation to do whatever is necessary to meet those needs? What a burden that would lift from me and what a benefit it would lead to for the other party.

I give this simply as an example of wisdom that we can gain from unexpected sources. If you’ve known me for any length of time, you understand that I am not a proponent of compromise. Compromise is the tool of the man with no convictions. No one should ever compromise their most deeply held convictions and beliefs. But we should be open to listen to others; for there is hidden wisdom out there that we’ve been missing just because we’ve been closed-minded.

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