Hanging Out with Those Who Share Our Beliefs May Be Comfortable, But It Isn’t Good
In the post “Can You Be a __ and Still Be a Christian?” we discussed our tendency to judge other Christians and evaluate their faith through the lens of our life and the spiritual decisions we make. But these choices are secondary.
What matters is Jesus. The key, the one essential, is following Jesus. All other concerns dim in importance to this one eternal, all-encompassing truth.
It’s human nature to seek out those who believe like us—just like us. And in our increasingly polarized world, we more than ever seek like-minded people with single-minded fervor, pushing aside those who think, talk, and act differently—even a bit differently.
But when we focus our time only on people who believe exactly as we do, we run the risk of producing misguided beliefs—and then promoting them with unexamined confidence.
I call this spiritual incest, a provocative, yet apt label for an inevitable outcome we should avoid when we congregate only with like-minded people.
Go to Church with People Who Believe Like Us
When we seek a church to attend, we look for a place that aligns with what we’re used to and where we feel comfortable. This makes sense, but embedded in this goal is people who believe like us. This is what we’re used to and what makes us comfortable.
Yet what we end up with is a spiritual echo chamber that allows us to feel good about ourselves and our choices but fails to produce meaningful, significant spiritual growth.
Instead we should seek a church that will challenge us spiritually to look at our faith, practices, and convictions from different perspectives. We need spiritual diversity—not uniformity—if we are to thrive and grow into the people God wants us to become.
Don’t seek a church that makes us comfortable—that’s a consumerism mindset. Instead seek a church that makes us a little bit uncomfortable, that stretches us spiritually, that challenges us to become more than who we are. This is a holistic, spiritual mindset.
Follow People on Social Media Who Believe Like Us
The same holds true for social media. We seek people who believe like us. They support our perspectives and reinforce our choices. We feel smugly content with their affirmation. Similarly, we push aside those with conflicting ideas because they confront our choices.
We feel uncomfortably unsettled with their divergent ideals. So we ignore them.
I get this. This is my default mode on social media. And I sometimes question if I should be there at all. Yet when I allow myself to truly consider the perspective of someone who believes differently than I do, I grow as a result.
This can produce one of two outcomes. Either I tweak what I thought I knew to produce a more enlightened, inclusive understanding. Or I embrace with greater intellectual honesty what I already believed.
Only now my perspective becomes an examined one and not blindly accepted. Either way I grow.
Read Content from Authors Who Believe Like Us
Continuing this perspective, we tend to only read content from authors who believe like us. We do this for the same reasons we use to select what church we go to and who to follow on social media—of who we hang out with.
However, I doubt that you read my writing because you agree with everything I say. I’ve never met anyone yet who believes exactly as I believe.
I suspect, I hope, I pray that you read my writing because I occasionally challenge you to think of spiritual issues a bit differently, to tweak what you believe to be more spiritually enlightened and inclusive.
And whether you agree with what I write or not, my goal is for you to emerge with a more examined honesty in what you believe and why.
I want to move us more in step with Jesus and who he desires us to become. The goal isn’t to produce uniformity of belief, but to help us grow into the unique disciples he wants each one of us to become.
Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.