By Marnie Pehrson
If you were remodeling your home and were going to add an extra bedroom, but the only tool you had was a screwdriver, would you work and struggle to build the room with only a screwdriver? Or would you go out to the store and pay the price for the proper tools to get the job done efficiently and effectively?
Many of us try to build our houses of faith with one favorite tool that we've gotten used to. We either don't realize that there are more tools available or we're not willing to pay the price to acquire them. A house of faith is built first and foremost upon an open mind. William James once said, "In admitting a new body of evidence, we instinctively seek to disturb as little as possible, our pre-existing stock of ideas." Most of us try to make new concepts, truths or ideas fit within the framework of our pre-existing conditioning. We don't ask, "Will this concept make my life better?" instead we ask, "Does this fit with what I already believe?" But, in order to gain the tools of knowledge and truth that we need to build our house of faith, we will need to ask the first question, "Will this concept or idea make my life better?" If the answer is yes, then we should seriously study and consider it. Just because something doesn't fit within our pre-existing understanding of the world, does not mean that it is wrong, invalid, or cannot dramatically improve our life.
Jesus taught that we do not put new wine into old bottles lest they burst and break. (Matthew 9:17) People who are staunchly tied to their own ideas and traditions – the old way of doing things can't handle the "new wine" or the new information that God has to share with them. They cast it away in their unbelief and never give it a chance. They don't put it to the test - plant the seed, see if it sprouts and begins to bear fruit. This is why God told us to "lean not upon thine own understanding" (Proverbs 3:5).
Recently, I've had the opportunity to learn some brand new ideas – revolutionary ideas to me that are making significant improvements in my level of faith and understanding of how God works in our lives. Sometimes the things I'm learning make me a little unsettled because they sort of clash with some pre-conceived notions. But when I ask myself, "Assuming this is true, will this information make my life better?" the answer I get is a resounding "Yes." I've started planting the seeds and they're growing and bearing good fruit. Thus, I now know that they are good seeds.
I am coming to understand that the wealth of knowledge, light and truth that God wishes to share with us is endless, but we control the amount of it we receive by our willingness or unwillingness to lay aside our preconceived notions and absorb a little more truth.
A second way we build a house of faith is by using the tools God has given us – the scriptures (the words of His prophets), prayer, attending church regularly, and leaning on each other. It is so important for us to build relationships with other believers – other people who are walking their talk and living their faith and bearing good fruit. If the important people in your life are not conducive to a house of faith, then you do not have to divorce yourself from them, but you can spend less time with them – go less and stay for a shorter period of time. Start building relationships with people who will help you build your house of faith.
I remember as a new mother attending church each week, sitting in the mother's lounge with the women who had several children. They seemed to have an answer to all my new mother questions. All the things I fretted and worried about were "old hat" for them. They gave me a peace and a calmness with their answers and their assurances that, "yes, we all feel that way at one time or another." What a blessing these sisters were to me! They saved me so much anxiety, searching and worry. Similarly, there are people in this world, who, if you build associations with them and make them a regular part of your life, can take the mystery out of life. They can allay your fears, strengthen your knowledge and bolster your faith.
Knowing that these tools are available why would you limit yourself to the one or two tools you may have in your toolbox? Why try to build your faith with only a screwdriver when there's a whole toolbox out there? Isn't it worth the price of a few ruffled feathers or a momentary uneasiness in your preconceived notions to have the tools to build your house of faith in an efficient and effective manner? Why dawdle and waste years of time working with a limited number of tools? The price you pay may be that your house of faith never becomes all it could be or worse, never gets built at all.