I cannot say we are those with a penchant for excellent mascots. As one whose college mascot was “The Blue Hose” who married a “Purple Paladin,” it should not surprise me that my children’s youth sports teams have featured such mascots as the “The Pink Fluffy Unicorns,” “The Green Ninja Lizards,” and “The Camo Sharks.”
In light of such a streak, it would not seem strange to select the Bereans from the Bible as a mascot for our muddled times. The courage, curiosity, and Scriptural anchoring of these Jewish brothers and sisters have much to speak to us today. Like us, they lived in a time of great upheaval to what they had always believed and been taught. Their spirit of openness to hear from the apostolic band of brothers was balanced by an honest questioning and sifting what they heard through the sieve of Scripture.
For us today, reasoning, idea-mixing, and intellectual dialogue are no longer isolated to a few central locations like the city gate or the synagogue. In fact, there are hundreds of would-be prophets and politicians (both trained and untrained) who offer their opinions and worldview to us at the scroll of a finger. Credible, non-credible, and even incredible sources vie for our attention and our allegiance. Popular voices use their platforms as megaphones, making it hard to turn down the noise. As such, the Bereans who held both the tension between being open-minded and gullible prove an example for us today.
As was his custom upon entering a new area, the Apostle Paul went to the synagogues where he would reason and open the Scriptures, “explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead” (Acts 17:3). After being sent away from Thessalonica for his own safety, Paul and Silas came to Berea and headed directly to the synagogue. The audience they found there left an impression on them.
“Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. Many of them therefore believed, with not a few Greek women of high standing as well as men” (Acts 17:11–12).
They were eager, but not too easily swayed. They were curious, but cautious, wanting to search the Scriptures to see for themselves. They were not afraid to reason and reckon before they received what they heard. Their opinions, desires, and long-held customs were not their compass points, the Scriptures were.
After all, what Paul and Silas were sharing with them forced them to have to let go of long-held and long-cherished beliefs and customs. Yet, they did not refuse to listen, entrenching themselves in the bunker of their beliefs. They had open ears but rightly-skeptical hearts. However, when the truths they were hearing aligned with the Scriptures, they were willing to shift accordingly. In a polemical culture where assimilation and fortification are two poles, we have much to learn from the posture of the Bereans. Thus my vote to make them our mascot for a muddled time. If Stanford’s mascot is a tree and Syracuse boasts a giant orange man, biblical Bereans do not seem so strange a selection.
You were meant to conquer,
Yet let a cross conquer you.
You were to upend Rome,
Yet Pilate upended you.
You were to restore our city,
Yet You died outside its gate.
You were to usher in a kingdom,
Yet You were ushered out in hate.
I’ve seen the Scriptures all my life
They’ve been my utmost concern.
But hints of the Suffering Savior
Shout as each page I now turn.
The living logos has leveled
A lifetime of cultural learning.
The Holy Spirit stirs my soul,
For a better king I’m yearning.
I love the model the Bereans left us. I love how the Spirit saw fit to inspire Luke to include their example in the book of Acts. For those who say the Scriptures are not relevant to our time, the Bereans say otherwise. Oh, that we would be more like them, that we would raise children more like them. Oh, that we would be more committed to the searching the Scriptures for what God is saying than using them scaffold what we want to them to say.