Call it what you will, but it has become the lifeblood of my Christian walk.
When I was younger, I studied because I believed "I was already there." I had the knowledge and studying more was simply a way to continue to build my arsenal of weapons and ammunition against other inferior opposing arguments. It felt good to read those who I agreed with and glean tidbits of useful information that I could use to disarm opponents. I could replay fictitious debates over and over in my head reveling in the glory of trouncing my opponents.
I was a legend... in my own mind.
Then something started to happen. Life.
I got engaged.
Through pre-marital counseling, I was finally forced to deal with baggage and sin that was blinding me to certain things in my life and to the way I was treating people, especially my mother.
Things started to change a little. I started to read people that I disagreed with. No, I didn't read what people that I agreed with wrote about the people that I disagreed with. I actually started reading opposing arguments presented by the people who held those positions. (There is quite a difference.)
But I was still "already there." I had just lost a little bit of my confidence.
So I got married. I left a church that was too "liberal" in favor of a church that reminded me of my childhood and the way I was raised. (Yeah, that should have been a red flag right there but...)
Eventually though, through the grace of God and the prayerful leadership of my wife (Becky), I started to open up to new ideas. I realized that I might not be "already there." I actually started to think that I would benefit from studying for the sake of the Journey rather than building an arsenal.
It dawned on me. Christ doesn't need to be defended, as if He is some impotent grey headed senior confined to a wheelchair in a group home! I turned away from the image of myself as the last defender of Christ and all that is Holy against an ever increasingly compromised world, and I instead started looking toward the Christ who was actually there.
What I found was amazing. When I studied in an effort to come closer to Christ, a whole new world opened up. Instead of fearing alien ideas, I started to comfortably engage opposition. Sometimes they would make sense, and sometimes they wouldn't. I learned that if I kept my eyes on Christ, I could easily benefit from all kind of ideas, even the ones that I didn't necessarily adopt whole heartedly.
I transitioned from a Fundamentalist to a Libertarian.
From a hard core Young Earth Creationist to someone who believes Genesis 1 isn't talking about physical things.
From someone who feared science to someone who loves to study geology and imagine what the world looked like millions and billions of years ago.
From a state worshiping neo-con to a sovereign individual whose only allegiance is to the Kingdom of Heaven.
From a husband that needed his wife to submit to build his own self image to a husband that glories in the benefits of having a Godly wife willing to lead in areas where she is gifted.
From a father who was ready to spank at the slightest sign of defiance to a gentle Dad who has realized the futility of physically hitting a defenseless child.
From someone who imagined themselves right next to Christ while he rides on his White Horse slaughtering the wicked at the end of time (and even helping out with my own blood stained sword) to someone who realizes that Christ is here with us now, in all of His fullness and glory.
No, I don't think I am finally there. In fact, through all of these shifts I finally realize that I don’t even know how far away I am. But I also know I am not alone.
As I share my experience and studies in these areas (and more), I hope that my Journey will intersect with yours and bring about encouragement and edification.