Who has been the most important spiritual influence in your life? I can name several, but one of my favorites was my New Testament professor in college, Rodney Reeves. Dr. Reeves is a brilliant, kind man who always had a way of rephrasing even the dumbest question as something important.
I remember one class in particular, we were studying a wide range of scholarly opinions on some passage about Jesus. We read a statement by a scholar who was much more liberal than any of us in the class, and we all laughed at how silly his position was. No intelligent person could possibly think what he thought! Hilarious!
Dr. Reeves got very stern. I’ll never forget what he said next to us.
“Many of those so-called liberal scholars know their Bibles better than you do. They know them in Greek.”
The class got very quiet. And my brain sort of exploded. It was the first time I really remember understanding that people who disagree with me have something to teach me. That comment changed not only where I chose to go to grad school, but the fundamental character of my faith. I started seeking out voices who didn’t agree with me, listening more and talking less. And my faith blew up.
Of course it wasn’t just that statement Dr. Reeves made. It was the larger context of my relationship with him. It was his consistent kind, loving character that provided fertile soil for his words of correction to grow.
I know for a fact I wouldn’t be who I am today without him in my life.
And if you were to listen to the whole story of my faith, you’d meet countless other people who have been that for me. People who shaped my faith, who challenged me, loved me, cheered me on or supported me to grow into the person I am today.
Let’s talk about those people. Because we all have them.