I stumbled on a Facebook post yesterday about a controversial topic in Christianity. It wasn’t one of those topics that amounts to much ado over nothing. The struggle is real; the theology can be complex; and, the ramifications are far reaching for both Christians and the non-Christian neighbors they seek to serve and live with. In other words, if we’re going to fuss over something, this is a topic worth fussing over.
As I read the (mostly civil) comments going back and forth it struck me how certain everyone was. On both sides of the issue, Scripture was crystal clear, you know, except for the fact that no one agreed on what it clearly said. Both sides would quote, and cite, and reference Bible verses, attempting to settle the issue and in extreme cases, some would question the faithfulness of others for daring to quote Bible verses after they had quoted their own definitive verse. As you can imagine, this discussion is ongoing.
I think I noticed this tendency because I am somewhat unsettled on aspects of this issue and in that unsettled state, the certainty of others stands in sharp relief to my own questions and doubts. (Some may be unnerved by my being unsettled, but my parents raised me to be a Christian that privileges slow, deliberate consideration in light of the Bible – and that’s where I am.) If the topic were different, if it were a topic I were more certain about, it probably would have done differently. My temptation would have been to quote my Bible verses, side with those who agree with me, and wonder how anyone else could come to a different conclusion. In my certainty over that topic, I would’ve missed what I discovered in my uncertainty over this one: that the issue typically isn’t as crystal clear was we want it to be; that both sides tend to have valid points and weaknesses; and, that both sides almost always respect and read their Bibles.
Facing the complexities and challenges of our current context, these words become incredibly important: “I could be wrong.” Saying that, recognizing that finiteness in myself, opens me to hearing my neighbor rather than assuming I’ve got the truth pegged and they just need correcting. It urges me to let go of the way I often cling to certainty at the expense of knowing God more deeply.
To be clear, I believe in big-T Truth. I’m somewhat less certain of my own grasp of that truth. I could be wrong. I have been wrong before. I am wrong now (though I’m not sure where that wrongness lies). I will be wrong again. So, I’m gonna try to hear what you’re saying and perhaps together, we can move closer to God.