And these were more noble than those of Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind and searched the Scriptures daily to see if those things were so. (Acts 17:11)
When Paul preached in Thessalonica, some of the Jews were jealous of the attention he received. They stirred up a mob and started a riot. Paul and Silas fled the city by night, came to Berea, maybe 50 miles away, and enjoyed a much warmer welcome. Luke says these Jews were more noble, or better born, than the last bunch. The NIV reads “of more noble character,” but Luke was not being so kind.
Today, the Bereans are held up as an example of those who diligently study the Scripture to test every new idea. That is not the point of Luke’s comment. He praised them because they had readiness of mind, they were open minded. Paul told them that Messiah had come, that Jesus was the one all the Jews were waiting for, and the Bereans were thrilled to hear it. The death and resurrection of Jesus was not at all what they expected of Messiah, but they did not assume Paul was nuts because his message was strange. They searched the Scriptures to see if they had missed the point, to see if what Paul said could be true.
Many Christians today are afraid to have an open mind. They’ve been warned that the devil will take advantage of that entry and deceive them. They’ve been told that since we have the Bible, God has nothing more to say to us. Or have they been trained to open their minds only to their trainers?
When the Bereans searched the Scriptures, they discovered what they had not seen before. The words had not changed, but their assumptions had. They didn’t go to the Scriptures to prove Paul wrong; they went to see if he could be right, because his message was so wonderful that they wanted it to be true. With this new hope, and their noble open minds, the Scriptures were opened to them, to understand all that the prophets had spoken of Messiah.
I once thought I knew it all. I was a skeptic. I received new ideas with doubt, and my mind immediately called up Scriptures to prove them wrong. My mind was safely closed against deception, and so I was deceived. I had missed the point in many areas, yet my mind was sealed against God’s correction. Only my failure to live what I thought I believed eventually weakened my defenses and allowed me to hear his voice. He had very good news to share with me, and he persisted until I could receive it.
Now I want to have an open mind. I want to consider the possibilities, to imagine. There is plenty of time to evaluate those ideas later, to search the Scriptures and see what could be true.
God is bigger now.