Faith Environments

0 comments Posted on October 1, 2016

by Brandon Hatmaker

When it comes to interpreting how we apply Scripture, nothing influences us more than the faith or church environment in which we were raised. While there are ongoing arguments among sociologists on whether or not certain foundational behaviors are due to nature or nurture, one thing is for sure: both are significant. We can’t control nature, but we have everything to do with nurture.

For example, we’ve all struggled with balancing grace and truth. Most likely that’s because we grew up in faith environments that may have unknowingly or unintentionally valued one over the other. But if we were to truly live like Jesus, our struggle would not be to balance grace and truth; the struggle would be to be full of both. John 1:14 says, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

milewideBeing full of both grace and truth is part of his glory revealed. It’s not a balancing act. The goal is to max out both, neglecting neither. This fullness defined Jesus, yet our pendulum tends to swing a mile to the left or a mile to the right, depending on what our formative faith environment emphasized.

Very few of us have been nurtured toward both. Some of us grew up in a truth-focused faith environment or church. Typically, these environments value doctrine over method or, at the bare minimum, focus more on Scripture, study, and obedience than on understanding freedom and grace. Conversely, some of us grew up in a grace-focused faith environment or church. Typically, it is these “it’s the heart that matters” environments that often value the how over the what.

Those of us who grew up in truth-focused environments most likely struggle with extending grace to ourselves and others. Those of us who grew up in grace-focused environments most likely struggle with applying truth to ourselves and others.

And so we clash when we come together to pursue gospel living, not always realizing the reason we see things so differently. What can we do about this? Knowing where our roots lie is a great place to start. From there we can ask the questions, Do I need to apply more truth to this situation, issue, or relationship, or do I need to extend more grace? and, How is my perspective perhaps skewed by my faith environment background? Knowing where we default could be a game-changer for how we forever view other people, biblical issues, and personal struggles. Once we have a clearer picture of our own tendencies, we’ll be able to better take a step back and impartially seek God’s direction and point of view.

Taken from A Mile Wide by Brandon Hatmaker Copyright ©2016 by Brandon Hatmaker. Used by permission of Thomas Nelson.

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