I read an article a couple weeks ago about a first round draft pick that turned out to be a major draft bust. If you don’t follow sports this means the player did not match up to the expectations people had for him. I don’t recall the name of the player or the sport. I only mention it because the article mentions that he knows he did not meet the expectations of the team and he also knows why. When asked about it, the player mentions his inability to take criticism or receive feedback. Specifically he mentions defensiveness. He said when his coaches would give him constructive feedback that he immediately got defensive and none of us will listen once we get defensive. I have had the opportunity to give feedback as well as be on the receiving end of feedback many times at work in a professional atmosphere. At work we are expected to be open to coaching and if you are a valued employee you will be expected to give constructive feedback as well. This is how great companies are built. If you have been around very long you have seen both gratitude for your coaching as well as contempt for your coaching. As I read the article about the ball player I immediately wrote down the word “defensiveness.” We were programmed by the teaching we sit under Sunday after Sunday to be defensive. We were programmed to say we are open to God’s leading but are we? The ball player is going to go down as a major draft pick bust and in his own words the defensiveness to coaching is mostly to blame. The stakes are much higher for us. We have a very short lifetime to be coached by the word of God. During this very short life that we have, we are given the opportunity to build upon the foundation our Apostle Paul built. Paul built upon Jesus Christ. We are specifically told to build upon the foundation Paul started. This is no way makes Paul a better “coach” than Christ. If you are a member of the body of Christ you are required to follow Christ by following Paul. A good reminder is what Jesus said in John 13:20 “He that receiveth whomsoever I send receiveth me: In Acts 22:18 Jesus told Paul to “get thee quickly out of Jerusalem; for they will not receive thy testimony concerning me” Just a few verses later Paul rehearses that Jesus told him specifically “Depart: for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles. Paul is our apostle sent directly by Jesus himself to the Gentiles. It is my personal experience that Christians by and large are defensive to the things Paul taught. I understand we were programmed to be this way. The second we become defensive we hinder our learning. Most Christians don’t want a challenge. They want to be told they have it all right. I’m not saying I have it all figured out, I’m saying the Bible, when it’s rightly divided, has all the answers to the confusion in Christianity. Don’t be gullible, but be “ready” as Paul says to listen and compare what is said to scripture. This requires you to fight off the preprogramming we have to get defensive when challenged. This truly is the hard part. Yes! I was defensive for a long time in my Christian life. Now I understand better. I was wrong and I changed. Now I understand that I MUST be open to listen, compare, study and believe differently when I find out I’m wrong. By the way, this is required of you as well. Peter himself admitted he was wrong when confronted by Paul as to the truth of the gospel. Read Galatians chapter 2 for the details. If Peter can realize he is wrong and change then so can we.
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Steve Schoenberger is a student of the Bible and the teacher at Abundant Grace Bible Fellowship, A Mid-Acts Dispensational Bible church teaching the Bible rightly divided according the revelation of the mystery delivered to the Apostle Paul