No one likes to be wrong. That's a no-brainer. We may like to disagree and debate about things, but in the end the goal is generally to end up on top.
I go through phases when I don't want to open up Scripture, I don't want to read blogs, listen to sermons, or explore deep theological concepts. I just want to take a little vacation from spiritual growth and assume that what I know is right. I let my mind relax in its imaginary hammock and sip imaginary lemonade, and pretend that all of the pieces of the puzzle are perfectly aligned. And for a while, it's nice. But I always end up back in pursuit.
I'm 27 years old. If you took my beliefs and held them up against those of my 17 year old self, the discrepancies would be glaring. You wouldn't believe it was the same person. The thing is, I was more passionate and settled into what I knew that I knew that I knew, then, than I am today. Don't get me wrong, I believe what I believe. With all my heart. My passion for it is pretty ferocious. But unlike then, today I can accept my own fallibility.
There is no way I have all of this stuff figured out.
And the thing is, that's okay. Hear me loud and clear, Folks: Disagreement is not disunity. At least, it doesn't have to be.
My favorite people to talk to are not the ones that agree with me a hundred percent on everything. There's a time when that's fun, and it certainly serves a purpose. But, if we only ever surrounded ourselves with people whose theology was completely in sync with our own, how would we ever grow?
Imagine taking a pile of checkers and stacking them up, one on top of the other. Each piece fits perfectly onto the one beneath it, so when you stare straight down on the stack all you can see is the top piece, and you assume that everything behind it is as it should be. That's how I feel about many Christians. We flock toward other people whose ideals line up with our own, and we quickly mold ourselves into one entity. It's easier. It's safer. And most importantly, it's comfortable.
Personally, I prefer it when we stack up more like Jenga pieces than checkers. Sure, sometimes we'll find ourselves off balance, and occasionally we might completely fall apart, but that's okay, because we are always working on it. We can't take a break from thinking, because if we aren't gaining ground we're losing it. No room to be stagnant, or complacent.
I like this. But a few things have to happen in order to make it work. First, we have to accept that we do have room to grow. We are not infallible, and ours is not the only legitimate interpretation of Scripture. I absolutely believe in spine and rib issues. The spine being salvation in Jesus Christ. Once we have salvation, we have the Holy Spirit, which means we are each equipped with the ability to discern. Which leads us to our second prerequisite to playing human Jenga: trusting others with their own theology.
Now, hear what I'm saying and not what you're reading into what I'm saying. We are talking here about Christians. Not just pew warmers, not atheists looking for a good fight, and not even those who are new in the faith. Mature believers. When we start getting into some of these tough theological discussions, ones where things are no longer black and white but full of gray, it's really important to be careful who we pull in. This isn't stuff you want to tackle in your "Now that you're a believer" Sunday School class. Be cautious in that. But when you are in the company of mature believers, whose spiritual foundation is salvation through faith in Christ alone, then I say let the good times roll. One of the sweetest things about life in Christ is the freedom that comes with that. My Friends, if you haven't yet embraced that freedom you are missing out. I am not responsible for your theology, nor are you for mine. That means that at the end of the day when we can't reconcile our view on whether or not Christians should drink alcohol, we can agree to disagree, and love each other no less. Realizing that there are gray issues in Scripture, and they are not points of division, but rather points where we can learn and grow and stretch ourselves.
Now this is not an exemption from confronting sin. I absolutely believe when we see a brother or sister in sin (one who we have a personal relationship with, not Mark Driscoll), we have a responsibility to confront that sin. Nicole Cottrell at Modern Reject wrote a great post last week about this, we are way too quick to excuse ourselves from confronting, but that is a responsibility that comes with Christianity. But, the problem comes in our definition of sin. Aside from the black and white stuff specifically outlined in Scripture, we like to take that Sin label and wrap it around anything that doesn't line up with our own lifestyle. So we point our fingers and say:
Drinking alcohol, Sin.
Listening to secular music, Sin.
Watching rated R movies, Sin.
Watching Magic Mike, Double Sin.
Really, though, can we make these kinds of blanket statements? This is where trusting others with their walk comes into play. We are to keep one another accountable, not to be obnoxious nags that nit pick each other to death.
No one ever welcomes a new believer into the Body of Christ by saying, "Now that you know Jesus, kindly step into this box. It's perfectly cubed, no rough edges, pure white, and clearly marked 'Christian'. If you choose to step outside of your box, don't expect us to come with you, you'll be on your own."
Can you imagine saying that to someone? Or writing it on their welcome card? I can't either, and yet we so often approach people in this way. Your Christian walk doesn't look like mine, so one of us must be wrong, and I know that's not me. Newsflash, I would be willing to bet that neither Paul's nor Jesus's walks looked like yours. Or mine. They lived and breathed and worked completely outside of the boxes we feel so comfortable within. And it's time we broke free and followed.
I like friction. I truly enjoy the sharpening process. Growing, stretching, and realizing that being wrong does not mean we're in a crisis of faith. It's okay to doubt. It's okay to question. As long as we are always in pursuit of God. Our process may change, but it's our focus that must stay the same. Focus, Friends.