Open or Closed

Over the last few years, I’ve had a number of things that have caused me to deepen my own faith.  Having grown up in the church with parents who encouraged a strong faith through their own lives, there have been times that I have strayed away, but not too far and not too long.  But how about people who don’t have any faith to speak of and who don’t seem to be very open to the idea?

I’ve always wondered what it was like to go through life without a strong faith, but I never experienced it.  I have friends who consider themselves atheists or agnostics and we get along fine.  While we have differing theological ideas, we’ve found commonalities in other areas.  I haven’t hesitated to share my own faith and they haven’t hesitated to share their disbelief.  I’ve even had them tell me that they respected my faith and the way that I lived my life.  I would consider most of these friends fairly open minded.

How about people who aren’t open?  How do I react to people who have no faith and aren’t open to the idea at all?

We’ve probably all had conversations with someone in our life who entered into that conversation with their mind made up.  Those conversations can be very frustrating, giving us the sense that we’re getting nowhere.  It ends up feeling more like a boxing match than it does a conversation.  How likely are we to want to engage in those conversations again once we’ve had them once?

It’s possible to have convictions and still remain open-minded, isn’t it?  When we have strong convictions, we can remain humble and open, exhibiting a willingness to learn from every situation.  We learn when we have to defend our beliefs and we learn when we hear how others defend their beliefs, but it’s amazing to me how many people don’t really want to learn at all.  They are content to believe what they believe with no willingness to learn or explore other possibilities.

I’ve found it pretty amazing that there are many people who consider themselves to be open minded who are really only open minded to the things that they believe.  On other words, they’ll be open minded as long as they agree, but if they disagree, forget about the open mindedness.

I have a lot of strong convictions, but I’ve done my best to listen to what other people have to say, after all, I never know what I might learn in the process.  While I might not find myself changing my views, it certainly helps me to understand people better and to learn a little bit more about where they’re coming from.

When we find ourselves so closed off to other ideas, I wonder if it’s fear that drives that.  What are we afraid of?  Are we afraid that our word will be rocked if we begin to diverge from our original thoughts and ideas?  The foundations that are the strongest can take the most abuse, they can weather the greatest storms.  How strong are our foundations?

Regardless of where you fall in terms of your faith, I would challenge and encourage you to keep your mind open.  That doesn’t mean that you believe everything that’s presented to you, but it does mean that you give things an educated look.  It doesn’t mean that you’ll necessarily change your viewpoint, but you just never know what you might learn along the way.

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