Seven Filters on Deciding What To Believe, Do and Focus On

Over the years I have had dozens of people ask me, “How do I learn what to believe?”  I’ve thought a lot about this question and have progressively taken note on the way and means by which I choose what to believe, do and focus upon in my life as a disciple of Yeshua our King.  Without any fanfare or claim to have discovered the only way to qualify truth-claims, I have come to see the value in the following seven filters.  I present them in an order not of importance but one that seems to help me filter through seas of information and claims.  Whatever I embrace, believe, do and focus upon in my life must refect the following:

  • It must and in the least somehow ORBIT in and around a reasonable, contextual understanding of scripture.

This means that there must be some sort of nod or at least an acknowledgement of whatever point that is being discussed in the Old Testament and/or Apostolic Record.  Time, age and audience is necessary for right interpretation.

  • I must be able to freely choose to believe or follow it, meaning it cannot be imposed upon me or mandated in any way by Men and their “laws.”

In other words, just because something is popular and accepted traditionally in the faith is no reason to receive and believe it.  The Spirit must validate the premise in my mind and heart and in accordance with number 1 above.

  • It must last (meaning it must be an eternal principle as opposed to an ephemeral or material principle that lacks an eternal purpose or place.)

I insert this into my filtering system because I believe in a distinct line between mortal life and all that it affords each individual and the fruit of the Spirit.  This is not to suggest that the fruit of the Spirit has no application to this mortal life but it is to state that if something is exclusive to this life (occupation, money making, fame, taxes, etc.) it is extracted from my priorities and assumes its rightful place in things all mortals need to do.

  • The principle must be transferable or have what I call, portability.

Similar but not equal to Point #3 above, portability means that the results, consequences and outcomes of the way I accept or focus on the subject at hand must, in the end, come with me after this life is over.  I suggest that faith and love follow those who chose to operate by such in the afterlife; that “crowns” may even be associated with such.  At the same time, where principles of self and flesh remain important while I am here, I do not see them as having a claim or priority on what I focus my life’s time upon.

  • It must genuinely encourage, endorse and support agape love.

Any stance, practice or doctrine that fails to create, produce and encourage agape (selfless, sacrificial, insufferable) love is to me, a bad interpretation of scripture or a religious tradition that has been accepted errantly.  For example, some sects of the faith publicly protest (with signs and shouting) against people who they believe are “in sin.” (abortion clinics, PRIDE parades, etc.)  These signs and shouts include things like, “you are hated by God,” or “You are going to hell.”  In my mind, these acts are an unfortunate by-product of religious traditions that should have been wiped out long ago and miss the call all followers of Christ have to be known by their love. (John 13:35)   Love is defined in scripture as being, 

patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;  it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  (1st Corinthians 15:4-7)

  • What I receive and believe must be inclusive.

What I mean by this is it must be readily and reasonable available to all people and never just some.

Finally, when all of these six steps are in line and operating, I must see and believe, by the Holy Spirit and its fruit,that

  • It must always lead to greater genuine liberty in my life and in the lives of those around me.

All people are free to do, believe and act in whatever way they see fit.  These things might be punished by others, but the reality remains – people can do and believe whatever they wish up until the point where they are held responsible for such and punished.  But even then, there remains the freedom to continue to believe as one wishes.  Liberty is the ability to believe and do what one wishes without repercussions from earthly authorities, laws or traditions.    Sometimes liberty comes with a price (like ostracization, disfellowshipping or excommunication) from certain cultures and groups – that is expected – but if a principle serves to strip me or anyone else of their spiritual liberties I will typically see the teaching or training as false and not worthy of my time and allegiance.  And example of this might be the American Evangelical notion that any real or true follower of Christ must be politically conservative or active in the political world around them.  To embrace and promote this idea is anathematic to the Liberty all believers should have in every area of earth-life including what they eat, drink, wear, are entertained by or how they live.  Bottom line?  Christ came to give more life, not less.  All who pursue Him ought to experience liberty in all things, and when those liberties are imposed upon, in my book they are ideas that should ultimately be rejected.

Shawn McCraney
Shawn McCraney
Articles: 108

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