As God's people we believe the Bible is the reliable, authoritative, and sufficient word of God.
There are many influences and worldviews that would shape people's lives. Our life together is shaped by the big story of God's redemption and love in Jesus Christ - from before creation right through to the new heaven and earth.
So we regularly spend time learning together from God's Word and it is as we see ourselves in this big story, that our choices, character, and relationships are shaped.
Who do we listen to? That's a big question for us. There are many voices in our world, clamouring to be heard. We can think of friends, family, the media, education, politicians, different faiths, non-faiths, and various kinds of -isms along the way.
Sometimes we know clearly and up-front what a voice is saying to us. Sometimes it is not so clear. I think this is especially true with the media. It may be films or TV programmes we watch, or music we listen to. It may be newspapers or magazines we read. There are the news reports on TV and radio too. All kinds of voices. And these are not all bad. Not at all. The point here is not to be paranoid about all these things and go and live in a cave somewhere to hide from them. No. The point is to realise that there are always worldviews and values behind any communication from people - because noone is 'neutral'. We all have biases.
We thought about this by watching two quite normal acceptable news reports about the Ukraine crisis. It was one year ago that the demonstrations hit the streets in Kyiv, and since that time, tragedy has come to the lives of many. We watched a report from the BBC on what has been happening over the year, and then compared it with a report from the Russia Today website. They both seemed fine, but slight changes in tone, wording, and at some points, opinion, made it clear that these two were coming from different stables.
So the issue is, knowing who we are listening to, and making a point of listening to the voices we can trust. It involves thinking.
As followers of Jesus, we listen to his voice, and in particular listen to the voice of God as it comes to us through the pages of the Bible. It is a great story; it outlines all God is doing and has done throughout history, and we get to be a part of it!
Understanding what the story is, and what our place in it is, shapes how we live. It affects choices we make. It affects the way we see issues. It affects the way we see other people, and the way we act towards them. It shapes our hearts - our character - who we are at our core.
This was why Paul was encouraging the young leader, Timothy, in his letter to him in the New Testament. He was facing all kinds of bewildering issues, and lots of opinions on it all. But Paul encouraged him to remember what he had been taught, and then said this:
All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work
2 Timothy 3 v16
That's why we spent a big part of this past year going through an overview of the bible story. We stopped for a while in September to look at our values again, but after Christmas we will be picking up where we left off, and going with the rest of the story through to Easter.
We need to see the big story - the upper story, and as we do, we comprehend the lower story of our everyday lives that much better.