Netflix recently released a television show called Making a Murderer that chronicles the bizarre story of Steven Avery. Avery, as many of you know by now, was arrested in Manitowoc County, Wisconsin in 1985 for sexual assault even though he had an alibi. He served 18 years of his sentence before his conviction was overturned based on new DNA evidence.
Following his release, Avery sued the county and several of the individuals involved for 36 million dollars and seemed to be well on his way to collecting a big paycheck. All of those proceedings came to a screeching halt when photographer Teresa Halbach went missing after taking pictures of a vehicle for sale at the Avery family salvage yard.
Law enforcement officials, including officers from Manitowoc County, began gathering evidence and Avery was eventually arrested and charged with murder. Even in the face of what many deemed reasonable doubt, and an obviously coerced confession from Avery’s nephew Brendan Dassey, the prosecutor received a conviction and Steven Avery was sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.
I must admit that the series leaves some questions unanswered, but I have been more fascinated by the response to the documentary. Almost everyone who comments considers themselves an amateur detective! Many hours of research have been put in by regular citizens to learn more about the case of an unknown man from Wisconsin. People from all over the country have taken on the task of investigating the case in hopes of finding something new to exonerate Steven Avery.
What concerns me is that we as Christians are often far less interested in investigating the unchanging truths found in the Bible than we are a criminal case made famous by pop culture. I am almost envious of Paul’s description of the Bereans in Acts 17:11, “These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.
“They received the word with all readiness” – Both the ESV and NIV use the word eagerness in place of readiness indicating that they were excited to hear preaching and anticipated the things that they were about to hear. I imagine a gathering where the spectators wanted to arrive early and sit towards the front (sorry, pet peeve) so they could listen to and digest the things being presented.
“They searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so” – The Bereans were excited to hear the Word and just as excited to examine Paul’s preaching to see if it was true. There should be challenging things taught from our pulpits that make us re-examine our faith. We should be open-minded enough to understand that we don’t know everything AND educated enough to know when we hear something that needs further study.
It’s sad for me to have to say this, but we do not investigate things related to scripture. We will sometimes disagree with something that is written in an article or said from behind a podium, but our disagreements are often without merit because we have not taken the time to research what we have chosen to disagree with. Most doctrinal arguments could be solved if all parties dove head first into the sacred text to find the truth.
Additionally, we often fail to take advantage of the abundance of resources at our disposal. We live in an age where scholarly research is available in online databases and books by experts can be downloaded for a fraction of the cost of a hard copy. Still, we don’t read or investigate things to form an educated opinion. Imagine how much more we could do in the Kingdom if we put the time and energy into studying the Bible and reading good books that would help us investigate.
Let us all seek to be like those noble Bereans and be passionate students of the Word so that souls can be won and glory can be brought to God!