I had a conversation recently that brought up the question of why some believers are so very weird. I’m not talking here about why believers are weird to the world. The lost world will never understand why we follow the ways of the Lord regarding all sorts of issues related to worship and even basic morality. But that does not answer why some believers can get so very strange, slipping way out into left field in their doctrine and practice.
1 Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire;
he breaks out against all sound judgment.
2 A fool takes no pleasure in understanding,
but only in expressing his opinion.
These two verses at the beginning of Proverbs 18 do a great job of showing us what is a danger that some believers face. Isolation is deadly. Cloistering together with only a few believers can often produce an echo chamber leading to very dangerous thinking. Believers need other Bible-believing believers to help them to examine their thoughts and their doctrine to be sure that nobody is driving the car off a cliff.
Of course I do not assume that there is no danger in following the crowd. In America, the modern church produces a whole lot of bad doctrine and bad thinking. I’m surely not suggesting that believers need to be influenced by prosperity preachers or megachurch strategies. We need to be sure that our influence is genuinely biblical.
What I am saying, however, is that we need to be careful that we are in contact with other believers who love the word and who have the right and the ability to challenge our thinking when we suddenly develop a “new” way to understand something. If the only voice you hear is your own when you propose a new way to keep the Sabbath, to think about roles in marriage, to discuss the standards for baptism, or something similar, you are likely to walk into some strange territory. We need to hear the voices of believers from the past who helped develop solid confessions of the faith. We also need to hear the voices of trustworthy believers in the present, especially if they see us wandering off into weirdness for weirdness’ sake. And even our local churches need interaction with other local churches to make sure that we, as a group, have not gone somewhere novel.
This is true in big doctrines, and it is true in day-to-day living. Isolation is deadly for the believer. God designed us to be united together in a community, a family, a body called the local church. You need to be thinking and praying and living alongside other believers. You need to see people who hurt in different ways than you do so that you can learn compassion. You need to be around people who are smarter than you, or who are smart in a different way from you, so that you can learn from their experience and study. You need to hear solid arguments and not merely your own voice.