A question has been plaguing me recently. What would happen if all the finer points of what I believe were proven wrong beyond any reasonable doubt? Some of you read that question and said to yourself, “Already the case!” But seriously, what would happen if everything beyond “I believe in God” was suddenly proven to be a creation of my own mind that was undeniably proven wrong?
I think that, if we are honest, most of us would say that we would be completely undone. Many of us would begin to question everything about our understanding in much the same way that I did when my Mom finally broke the news that Santa Claus wasn’t real. I am convinced that it would be an utterly disorienting experience–and I’m also convinced that it just might be the best thing that could happen to us.
It’s not that the stuff we believe should be seen as trivial. On the contrary! What you believe should show itself in how you live your life–a point Jesus seemed to hammer into those who followed Him. But I feel that for many of us it isn’t so much about how the way we live our lives is impacted by what we believe. It seems to be much more about what we believe being proven correct so we can be seen as “those who were right!”. In some extreme cases this is so evident that I have literally heard people mockingly say things like “He’ll know he was wrong when he’s burning in hell.” Often the same person who would utter those words would find it difficult to know how his faith in Jesus informs how he relates to his neighbor, chooses to spend his money, or responds to examples of darkness in his community. To him (Not any particular person), God is competition rather than mystery.
Competition as a replacement to mystery. This might be the best way that I can describe what tends to happen when we hold so desperately to what we believe rather than simply trying to follow Jesus. It is my goal to let go just enough that if the finer points of what I believe are proven wrong, I can simply say “Ok”, because my goal will be to follow Jesus rather than collect the most right answers. Of course, you can probably guess that my answer today would most likely not be “Ok”. I would probably feel like a part of who I am died along with my belief. To defend what I believe against those of you who disagree feels significantly more important than it should. This might be because in many ways–if I am honest–I am defending my sense of identity more than I am defending God, God’s Word, or “Sound Doctrine”. I hope to some day be able to let go of that. I hope you will too.