“That very night the believers sent Paul and Silas to Berea. When they arrived there, they went to the Jewish synagogue. And the people of Berea were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, and they listened eagerly to Paul’s message. They searched the Scriptures day after day to see if Paul and Silas were teaching the truth. As a result, many Jews believed, as did many of the prominent Greek women and men.” Acts 17:10-12
In my last post I reflected on portraying God correctly –Portraying God and checking our sources to ensure that what we believe and then tell others about God is right and not a misrepresentation.
Being open-minded is one way to help us do that. The dictionary defines “open-minded” as being “willing to consider new ideas or opinions which are different to our own in an unprejudiced way.”
Paul and Silas came preaching a new message to the Jews in Berea. Paul taught weekly in their synagogue that Jesus was the Messiah that the Jews were waiting for. Jesus had come as Messiah in a way that the Jews were not expecting but Paul showed them from the Scriptures that the Messiah had to suffer and die. Paul and Silas discussed their beliefs with the people openly and the Bereans’ response to them can help us.
Firstly, the people were willing to listen to what was being said and taught by Paul and not just assume that they knew it all already. How often are we encouraged to listen and consider what others are saying or believe rather than interrupt (before they finish) and jump straight in with our own views and opinions. Hearing people out fully is respectful and can avoid misunderstanding. We can make assumptions otherwise which are not correct.
Next, they wisely didn’t just accept that what Paul taught was true. Paul was a very learned man. A Pharisee who had studied Jewish law and teachings. He would most certainly have been respected by the Bereans. How often can we be tempted to just accept what is put out there as “truth” especially if it comes from someone with a reputation or famous, it sounds good and our emotions can be subtly manipulated without us realising it. The Bereans tested what was preached and being taught against the Scriptures – the original source which they trusted as being correct.
Paul didn’t mind being tested by them or others either. He encourages it. In his letter to the Thessalonians he says “but test everything that is said. Hold on to what is good.” 1 Thessalonians 5:21. Paul was confident in what he believed and preached and welcomed debate. It rings warning bells when someone doesn’t want an open discussion or debate or challenges about their beliefs or teachings which they want you to accept.
These people were also eager to find out the truth. These were people who wanted to know. They had enquiring minds and a desire to know the truth. I like to think of them as treasure seekers. They were seeking the pearl of greatest price.
There is a danger in just accepting what we hear or read because we don’t want to make the effort to look and search things out for ourselves..being spoon fed is dangerous. Testing requires us to be active and not passive. We need to actively seek out the truth for ourselves. Jesus said “Seek and you will find”.
Lord Jesus help us to follow the Bereans’ example and be open minded, willing to listen and eager to search out the truth by testing what we are taught and being ready to give an answer for what we believe and the hope we have in you our Saviour and Lord.