You assume the mom who’s working 40 hours a week is controlling and doesn’t know how to submit to her husband. But maybe her husband just lost his job and is frantically searching for another, and this is the only way they can make ends meet for now.
You assume the single woman with two kids that just walked in to church without a husband is divorced or has never married, but maybe she’s a widow.
Or maybe she is divorced, but maybe there were Biblical grounds for the divorce. Maybe she never wanted the divorce and is still hurting over it, and she feels judged every time she has to tell another Christian about it.
Maybe the Mom who buys fast food or pre-packaged freezer meals for her family was never taught how to cook a homemade meal by her own mom. And now she feels too embarrassed to ask for help.
Or possibly you just assume someone has it all together, feeling discouraged about your own life. But maybe they are struggling too and you could benefit from opening up to each other.
A few weeks ago, our pastor preached on John 7:25-52. While it wasn’t the main point of his sermon, the part about the Pharisees assuming Jesus couldn’t be the Messiah because of their preconceived notions really got me thinking. What all do my own preconceived notions cause me to miss out on? (read the full passage here)
They didn’t want Jesus to be the Messiah because he didn’t agree with their teachings and practices. So, they allowed that to guide their reasoning.
Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the offspring of David, and comes from Bethlehem, the village where David was? (verse 42)
Their assumptions blinded them from the truth.
So why do we assume so much? Are we scared to ask each other questions – afraid of coming across as ‘too nosy’? Do we not see the importance in knowing truth? Or do we simply want to believe what we want to believe?
I think sinful hearts are behind many of the preconceived notions we see in the church today.
We are jealous of each other, so we assume negative thoughts about others’ successes to feel better about our own failures or inadequacies. We secretly rejoice in others’ failures to puff ourselves up – thus becoming boastful in the gifts God has given us. And isn’t this the exact kind of judging Jesus warns about just one verse before?
Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment. (John 7:24)
We create unnecessary division in the church over petty things. And our division isn’t without consequence. It has lasting harmful effects of our witness to unbelievers.
By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 13:35)
How will they come to know the love of Jesus if we, the church, do not have love even for one another?
Let’s love one another as Christ first loved us. Let’s ask each other questions and get to know each other instead of making assumptions. Sometimes assumptions end up being true, but how will you know unless you ask? And if our assumptions are true, we need to know, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit we can be used to sanctify one another. To rebuke and correct wrongful thought and deed. To strive to be more like Christ, not less.
So let’s commit to that. Let’s ask the Lord to make us love one another enough that we truly invest our lives in the body of Christ, just as Paul described in 1 Thess. 2:8. As we begin to grow in both unity and Christ-likeness, we won’t be able to cling to the foolish preconceptions that we have built up to protect our idolatrous hearts. Our lives, and our churches will be far healthier for it.