I remember trying to dig to China in the sandbox with a plastic spade and bucket, and I imagine that you probably did the same. In a kid’s brain, it made sense that if you dug a hole deep enough you would eventually end up behind the Bamboo Curtain. It goes without saying that I never made it more than about 18 inches…a good ways from hearing any Chinese. There was never a parent that got worried that they would never see their little one again when they announced that they were going to dig to the other side of the world.
Speaking of digging…
I’m sure that most of us have noticed a tendency, especially in young men, to want to dig deep into the Word and to also explore the many different philosophies and doctrinal viewpoints that crisscross the landscape of Theology. It is laudable that there are young men in our ranks that desire to learn and grow in their knowledge of God’s Word; we need them! Without men who are able to articulate our beliefs, especially those that are attacked by other prominent voices, how will we pass down our Baptist faith to the next generation? We need preachers, thinkers, and writers who have dug deep into the Word and can rightly divide its truths. If you hear the call to dive into the unsearchable riches of His Word, by all means do! You could dedicate your life to the study of all the doctrines and “ologies” contained in that Book and never exhaust it! You could decide to dig to the bottom and never run out of sand.
There is one important thing to remember while you are digging and that is this: dig all you want, just stay in the sandbox. By that I simply mean that there is an accepted body of truth that has been passed down by Godly men who dedicated their lives to the systematic study of God’s Word. Everything from our beliefs about creation to our beliefs about eternal state are contained in that body of truth. All of the doctrines and the various “ologies” are part of our Baptist history, heritage, and faith; and have been for centuries. Those beliefs have stood the test of time simply because they are true, trustworthy, and grounded in His Eternal Word. Inside the boundaries of that “sandbox” you can dig as deep as you like into the truth without ever hitting bottom.
But there are other “sandboxes” – some old, some new – and they send out a siren call for all who wish to leave the “old” sandbox and discover what “truth” lies buried in theirs.
“Dig here;” they say, “this is where all the true intellectuals are digging.”
“It’s nice and soft over here where all the cool and successful pastors dig.”
“Are you still digging in that old thing? You need to discover something new!”
Before long, we watch young men find our sandbox much too small and confining, and off they go to dig elsewhere, searching for truth that they would never find in the “old” sandbox. In the end, they no longer want to be associated with those of us who have stayed in the “old” sandbox; after all, we just don’t know what we don’t know because we have stayed in the same tired relic of a sandbox.
Why do we see good young men take their spade and try a different box? A variety of reasons I suppose…
It has a hint of rebelliousness to it that appeals to certain young men.
It is cool to reject the “old” for the “new”.
Most of the most popular speakers and writers are not in our “box”.
No one wants to appear anti-intellectual to their peers.
And, to be honest, I completely understand! There was a time when I too was close to being lured away from that foundation that I was given as a young man. There were many of my peers who chose to dig elsewhere and never returned to the Baptist faith. Fortunately, God placed me under the preaching of some good, sound men who kept me where I knew I needed to be – right back in the “old” sandbox which has stood the test of time – and it still has not run out of sand.
Are you hearing the call to dig elsewhere? The reasons to stay in the sandbox go far beyond tradition or what our predecessors may have preached or believed. Dig for yourself and see if all the doctrine that you have been taught is or is not true. Dig for yourself and see if what those who went before have taught us is in fact in accordance with the revealed truth found in His Word. Dig away…but take care that you don’t listen to all the voices that may draw you away from that truth.
Remember this when the temptation comes your way to take your spade and bucket elsewhere.
Ted Inman is the associate pastor at Southwest Baptist Church in Oklahoma City, OK.