Right or Wrong? Wrong or Right?

I’m wondering if we are afraid to be wrong?

I think that for me, personally speaking, I’m okay with being wrong in some areas of my life. I handle being wrong when it’s things that are more easily changed.  But when it falls in my interpretation of scripture or my outlook on God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, Heaven, Hell, etc I have a much harder time admitting that there is a possibility of being wrong, much less coming right out and saying, “Okay, I’m wrong.”

If we look at scripture we have a handful of elements that the vast majority of Christianity hold as non-negotiables.  There are certain things that if became untrue our christian faith might crumble.  This is fine.  We do need to realize that if there are only a handful of what I will call “absolutes”, then that means everything left is debatable.  There is a multitude of subjects in scripture that we could debate about and lie on both sides of the theological spectrum and use scripture to support our claims.

Why do we invest so much time and energy into arguing our side?  Look at history and you find blood being spilt over ridiculous interpretations of scripture.  Even in those times there were Godly people who supported one side, while there were Godly people supporting the resistance.  So, who’s right?

or better yet,

Who is wrong?

I think we are so terrified of being wrong that we cling to what we think to be truth.  And perhaps the way you are interpreting scripture is spot-on what God was saying, BUT what if it’s not?  What if you are wrong?

What do you do?  Do you change?  Do you listen and move?

or

Do you sit and remain the person with unwavering faith?!

Seeing that I’m in question mode, What does more harm to your spiritual well being – hearing the conviction of the Holy Spirit and not changing?  or Changing?

Sounds simple, yet it’s incredibly complex, or it can be.  What if God began to reveal to you through an array of avenues that He wanted you to live on less of your paycheck so you could bless others more?  and part of this urging meant emptying out your retirement account to give to a specific family in desperate need of help?

Would you do it?

I say it’s complex because when you commit to following this urging of the Holy Spirit, your life changes.  If you live on less money, that probably means that you will need to move to a smaller house in a different part of town.  Your kids will be moving to a new school.  The cars you once drove are now too expensive to keep up, so you’ll need to sell those and get a more economically friendly version.  You might even need to get rid of some of your home electronics.  You can’t shop at Banana Republic any longer, Target is now your place to buy a suit.  All of this change, plus more that come in the future, for what?  Following the conviction of Christ?

Will we ever think about saying YES if all we want is for God to confirm our beliefs and affirm where we are at in life?  No, we’ll never say yes when we are so certain of our beliefs about God that we box him up to be “this” and not “that”.  I would argue that if you are not okay with the mystery of God, then you most likely will not be okay with admitting you are wrong.  The mystery of God is a sure fire way to prove that we are wrong with some of our beliefs about God.  Mystery is uncomfortable, I get that, but mystery is also beautiful.  If we have determined what to believe about God and we are unwilling to change, God is no longer God – He is just your version of who you think God should be.

If we can not look within ourselves and be comfortable with being wrong about God we run the risk of becoming a stagnant body of water, full of decay.  When we become so certain of who God is, we cease to see the wonder of the Divine and we forget that He is bigger than this text we have sitting in front of us.

Sometimes I fear that we are so sure of what we believe we forget how to be wrong, we forget how to say, “I don’t know.” as an answer We forget that God is beyond our comprehension and our explanations and we should want the Divine to cause us to say, “Wow. I completely missed that one.  I was so far off. I was TOTALLY wrong.”

There is a beautiful humility in being comfortable with being wrong.

Give me a pastor who speaks in love and adoration about God and the Word humbly over the pastor who arrogantly tells me God is this and not that.  I think the humble can take being wrong.  The arrogant on the other hand will simply deny it and call me a heretic for speaking outside of his interpretations. Trust me, this happens.  It has been suggested that I could be a bit heretical by some.  (by the way, we need to be very cautious when calling someone a heretic – that word is larger than the black text or the breath it took to speak it.  You are saying much more about someone and about yourself with that statement than I think we realize.)

Sorry if this was a bit of a “downer” of a blog but I’ve run into a lot of arrogance lately and it has been wearing on me.  And tonight I heard a story of a young gay man who is continually in tears and distress because of what people around him say and do.  He is tormented by people and some of these people go to church every sunday and believe things so certainly that their belief causes someone else distress. That is insane to me! It is their certainty of his fate that causes them to speak terrible words, not words of love but words of destruction.

We have the tendency to cling so tightly to what we believe about God and at times it’s our tight grip that is killing the loving message of the Gospel.  There is a monumental difference in knowing what you believe and speaking words of love, grace, encouragement, mercy, hope and peace into a persons life and being the arrogant jackass trying to convince people to believe what you do.

So, my question for us…

What if we are wrong in our beliefs?

What if you are wrong?

What if I am wrong?

What are you so worried about?

Is fear controlling you?

Today, may we learn to live with courage.

May we move when we feel the presence of the Divine urging us to do so.

May we not hold back, but instead may we let go.

I want to be wrong.  Sounds crazy to some, I realize this.  I don’t want to be the jerkishly arrogant guy telling you that you are wrong for interpreting scripture a certain way, especially when it’s been debated since it was written.  Maybe, just maybe God is bigger than we give Him credit.  And maybe we don’t have it right.

Grace and Peace

3 Comments Add yours

  1. thompson1963 says:

    “…at times it’s our tight grip that is killing the loving message of the Gospel.” What a great line. That’s excellent. Good column, Rustin. I continue to be challenged by your thoughts. You use an example that more or less illustrates downsizing as a response to the Holy Spirit’s direction. I think we have to allow, too, that God calls some people to increased wealth. Not increased standard of living or increased materialism. There is a difference and many mission organizations are thankful for these people. When Paul talks about giving in Corinthians, he says God gives back more so that we can give back more. The opposite of what the health/wealth preachers contend, that being God gives you back more so you can increase your standard of living. Keep writing! – Todd Thompson

    1. Todd, I totally agree. There are some people that are blessed with the ability to make money and that can be a beautiful thing. It’s a must to fight materialism and as you said, we need to give more when we’ve been blessed with more. I often challenge people to try and remember the mentality they had in college regarding their standard of living. In college we are fine with little because it’s sort of expected to not have much but the minute we graduate we decide we need to buy all of this stuff. Materialism in action 🙂 it all comes down to stewardship. Todd, thanks for the encouragement and responding, helping keep me sharp. It’s greatly appreciated.

  2. Momma Klafka says:

    How does a son teach his mother so much…you amaze me Rustin by how you think…but most of all for teaching and pointing out things I don’t stop to think about…May God continue to use you as he has done for years.

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