There are a lot of books and study materials on the market geared toward Christians but not all of them are based on biblical truths. As a small group leader, I feel that I have a responsibility to ensure that the materials I share with others supports biblical truths. I don’t want to unknowingly give out false doctrine.
I go through the proper channels, making sure my pastor approves the Bible studies chosen for my small group. But I also allow my own discernment to steer me in the right direction. I have to do my own due process by prescreening material for appropriateness, just like I do for my kids before I let them watch a movie.
Still, one area I haven’t really thought about prescreening before is my own personal library. I’ve acquired many Christian books over the last six years, most of which I have not read. I’m just now getting around to reading some of these books.
I opened one last night, read the introduction and thought, “this would be a great book for my friend Jennifer. I need to get her a copy.” Jennifer is a girl that I’ve been having 3-hour weekly lunches with in the spirit of discipleship. She knows the Bible pretty well but has been working on her prayer life. I thought maybe this book on developing a better prayer life might be a good fit. I asked Nick to remind me to get in touch with the author this week so that I can get another copy. Then I continued reading.
While reading the first chapter, I became very uncomfortable. I kind of stopped reading the words and started to glaze over them. I wanted to keep reading but it was beginning to be a struggle. Something about the material didn’t feel like it added up to God’s word. I closed the book and immediately started praying, “Lord, show me the truth. Tell me if I should be reading this, if I should be sharing this with Jennifer.”
I opened my eyes, and found my husband looking over me. I told him my concerns with the book, and he agreed with what I knew to be the truth. I couldn’t share the book with my friend. I put the book back on my nightstand, making a mental note to throw it in the trash later.
When I woke up this morning, the situation was still heavy on my mind. Jennifer has borrowed two books from me recently, two books that I haven’t read. As someone that I’ve been discipling, she’s likely thinking on some level that these books are good because I own them. She probably thinks that I’ve already read them and it never occurred to me to tell her that I haven’t.
Perhaps moving forward I should read a book first before I lend it out, much like I prescreen our small group material, the movies that my kids watch, and the books that they read. Taking some responsibility as a Christian friend is just as important as taking responsibility as a parent. I’m hoping that in doing so, I can protect her from falling victim to false beliefs during a vulnerable period where she is rebuilding her faith. It also challenges me even more as a Christian to stay abreast to the current trends and delivery methods of false doctrine.
I may not be a pastor, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t do my part in helping protect the next group of Christian leaders. We all have a role to play. I hope that you’ll join me in sharing only verified biblically sound teachings, and stand with me in prayer for all of us to have the spiritual discernment to know the difference. God bless you all.
“Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” 1 John 4:1
“See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.” Colossians 2:8
“The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge, for the ears of the wise seek it out.” Proverbs 18:15