I recently read a list of a certain pastor’s sermon titles on his website. About two-thirds were some variation of “Why You Should Be Different Than You Are.” I got depressed just reading them. The implication was “of course you’re doing everything wrong. You are a loser. And by the way, where’s the joy in your life?”

I understand his premise. I don’t agree with it, but I understand where he’s coming from. A lot of us latched on to a negative premise at some point. He probably did too.

And old premises die hard.

Don’t get me wrong. I believe “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). Almost all of us recognize our mess-ups, except for the occasional narcissist who doesn’t feel a need for forgiveness. But I think God prefers the “live loved” premise—the thing that comes first. The basis for everything else. The cornerstone.

I know people who live loved…and I know people who form beliefs based on faulty premises.

For example, in Gaza’s most recent election (2006), you can believe that Hamas won 90% of the Palestinian vote (which I’ve seen on social media, that great arbiter of truth). And you can justify the killings of 10,600+ children. Or you can believe it won 44% of the vote because “proportional representation” was used, i.e., the biggest percentage wins, even if it’s not a majority. You can also believe that Israel originally supported Hamas as a counterbalance to the PLO.

You can believe whatever you want.

I just think we need to be very, very careful. The strongest voice isn’t always the accurate voice. Premises (and people) can be strong but dead wrong.

I’m beginning to think one of the most important things in life is getting the premise right. That could mean a lot of hard work, even reconstruction, but so worth it. The “lifechanging breakthrough” kind of worth it.