I love children. They have such sweet innocence. And they are very gullible.
I remember once when we went one a camping trip with my nephew. He wanted me to tell him a scary story around the campfire. He was about eight years old. I told him the stories I could tell would be too scary. He laughed. He challenged me and said I couldn't scare him. (OK... Those of you who know me also know my competitive nature. I couldn't turn this one down.)
That night, as we ate by the fire, I began casually talking to his sister about the little girl who was killed the year before because while they were camping she threw her leftover food in the woods. Her food attracted a stone bear. Now, if you do not know... Stone bears are bears that sneak up on you at night, but you never notice because when you look at them they stand still. Their grey fur makes them look like a stone.
As I continued on embellishing this story, I watched how he finished all his food so that he wouldn't have any leftovers that might attract a stone bear. I watched as he kept looking around the woods to see if he could see anything sneaking up. When my nephew was not looking, I tossed a small stone into the woods. Our dog heard it and began barking. This made my nephew very nervous. The story continued for a few more minutes until my nephew was clearly uncomfortable with the thought of a stone bear lurking.
We spilled the beans and let him know it was just a scary story. He laughed it off like he wasn't that scared. But he refused to go potty by himself that night.
That's how easily kids are led astray. They so easily trust because they do not know things. My nephew had no idea there was no such thing as a stone bear. And many people who are still spiritual children are just as easily led astray by false doctrine.
(Rabbit trail... False doctrine is why we have dozens of denominations of churches. Does denomination matter? Uh, only as much as TRUTH matters! And don't be fooled by the title "non-denominational." They have a system of beliefs, too... So non-denominational is a denomination. A denomination is a church group that is united under a common doctrinal belief system. And just because they carry the title "church" or "Christian" doesn't mean they are teaching biblical truth.)
Ephesians 4:13-15 "Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we [henceforth] be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, [and] cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, [even] Christ:"
What is the purpose of the pastor teaching and preaching? What is the purpose of the work of the ministry? What is the goal of edifying the body? So that the local church will come into unity of the faith... So that we will know Christ, and we will grow and mature. Then, when people come around with false doctrine, we are not led astray. We are not like children who believe everything someone says. We know how to study God's Word and how to identify lies that people tell.
There is only one way to have true unity of the faith... We must agree on what God's Word teaches. We must let God's Word determine our doctrine. So the more my church (including me) studies God's Word and believes its doctrine, the more unified we become.
So what does this mean for us? Get into God's Word and study! Treasure the preaching of God's Word. Don't be afraid to search the Scriptures to see if something is true or not. And don't believe what others say simply because they sling the title "Christian" out there. There are a lot of people out there who are sneaky and try to deceive... The more mature you become in Christ through His Word, the less often you will be led astray.