You’re Probably Wrong
AUGUST 19, 2020
We agree on the big stuff. Let’s get that out of the way.
We agree on the big stuff. Let’s get that out of the way: Jesus, who is God, became a man, died, rose from the dead, and is our salvation. That’s the Christian faith. But, a whole metric ton of other stuff is up for debate.
It’s not like we have no clue. We’re not guessing or anything. We’re in the ballpark of where the truth is on most things. There are edges and walls to keep us from going too far off. But on issues you and I are certain we’ve got clarity, there’s another guy who thinks something different, and he’s probably got as much evidence to back up his take as you do. I’m talking big stuff. Sanctification, End Times, Salvation, Lord’s Supper, Baptism, and, of course, carpet color in the sanctuary.
As much Greek or Hebrew as you may know, as many books as you may have read, as long a string of letters as you have after your name, there’s somebody with just as much knowledge and evidence who disagrees with you—quite legitimately—on these huge, important issues within the Christian faith.
That used to bug me.
Now, I find it rather comforting. For a couple of reasons.
Smarts Without Heart
Ignorance is dangerous. Ignorance has probably killed, maimed and/or tortured many more people than knowledge ever did, but knowledge isn’t morality by any stretch of the imagination. I’ve spent quite a bit of time over the years with the so-called religious elite. The super-smart theologians who have dedicated their lives to studying the Scriptures. And, while I have met some kind, open-minded, loving people of that ilk, I’ve also met some… how shall I put this…? Well, some of them can be know-it-all jerks.
Heck, I don’t even have a PhD, and I’ve been known to visit Jerklandia from time to time. “Knowledge puffs up…” (1 Cor. 8:1…ish). It just is what it is. Now, I love learning, and picking the brains of the learned. I’m not saying educated people are bad, I’m saying highly educated people aren’t any better than the rest of us. Learning is great. But, if you’re busy learning a truck-ton of information about God, you should be aware this information won’t make you a better person. “The man who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to know” (v. 2).
Certainty Makes You Mean
I don’t have to have it all figured out, man. I mean, I’d rather. There’s something super comforting about thinking I know the mind of God and have all the answers to every complicated issue life throws at me. (and I genuinely spent a lot of years trying to do that.) ‘Knowing’ makes me feel important and smart and in control. Certainty is a heck of a drug.
But, and maybe this is just me, I’ve found that certainty tends to stifle love. When I think I’ve got it all figured out, that means I’m right and you’re wrong. That means your beliefs, way of doing things, lifestyle, choices, and—let’s face it—very existence, is an affront to me insofar as they don’t agree with mine. Because I’m right and you’re wrong. Period.
I can tell myself that I give you grace in your wrong beliefs, but I’m still putting myself above you. I, the bigger person, is deigning to give you space to be wrong in the presence of my rightness.
Now, a while back, I saw someone post a similar idea on social media—don’t be a butt-munch about being right, because you’re probably not as right as you think. To which someone replied, ‘but what if I am right though?’ (I’m pounding my head on my desk right now just remembering that.) So what if you are? If ‘being right’ is your god, there’s not much I can say to dissuade you from that. Go right on ahead tithing your mint and your cumin perfectly while ignoring that whole justice and mercy thing (Mt. 23:23). Just hear me say that the Christian faith isn’t knowledge, it contains knowledge. The Christian faith, like God, is love.
“We know that ‘We all possess knowledge.’ But knowledge puffs up while love builds up. Those who think they know something do not yet know as they ought to know. But whoever loves God is known by God” (1 Cor. 8:1b-3).
Knowledge is necessary, and it’s fine. Even good. But it’s end result is arrogance. Love, however… that’s where it’s at in the Christian faith. That may bug some of you like it used to bug me. But, when I accept that I don’t have all the answers—and that even if I did it wouldn’t make me a better Christian—and that all I know with full certainty is that I’m to love my God and my neighbor, I don’t have to place myself as all-knowing judge of the world (or myself). I can just be.