The more I think about it, the more I find it strange that a religion so focused on being right has had such a long track record for getting it wrong.
I mean, Christianity today has become so much about having the right information about God that it’s almost as if we’re all going to have to pass some Cosmic Theology exam to enter the pearly gates.
Believe the wrong things about God – miss any questions on this test – and you are disqualified from God’s presence and cast into outer darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.
But…that is NOT what the Gospel is about, is it? It’s not about being right, knowing the right theology, having the right beliefs, or getting all the answers correct.
Not at all.
If it were about that, then why would Jesus’s teaching be mostly about asking us questions instead of giving us the answers?
Why would Jesus primarily teach by telling us a series of Parables without ever explaining what they mean to anyone? [Other than the one about the sower in the field, at least].
No, the Gospel is not about having the right information about God. It’s not about passing some Theological Bar Exam to enter Heaven when we die.
But, it is about “knowing” God and “knowing” Christ. Except that the way Jesus used the word “know” in this context was closer to the way a husband knows his wife and she conceives new life within herself. It’s the Greek word “Ginosko” Jesus uses rather than the word for “information” [or “episteme” in the Greek].
So, our knowledge of God is what’s important. But, it’s our experiences of Christ that make the difference, not how much theology we know.
Do we “know” Christ the way a loving husband knows his beautiful wife? Are we impregnated with the life-changing, transforming intimacy with God that remakes us from within into people who live – and love – like Jesus?
If not, all the knowledge and doctrine in the world won’t make a bit of difference.
So, I find it especially strange that a religion that emphasizes “being right” this way has had such a horrible tendency for “getting it wrong.”
For example, the Christian faith has historically been wrong about so many important things like:
- Torturing their own brothers and sisters for wrong doctrines [The Inquisition, Michael Servetus, the Anabaptists, etc.]
- Flat Earth
- Earth as the center of our Universe
- The oppression of women
- Embracing Empire
- The date of Christ’s return
Today, the Christian church continues to “get it wrong” in the way they confuse faith and politics, mistreat the LGBTQI+ community, worship the Bible, marginalize female leaders, fear Muslims, adopt Nationalism, celebrate violence, fight wars, support the death penalty, and so many other un-Christlike things as these.
You’d think that any religion that was so focused on getting things right would be a lot better about not getting it so very, very wrong for so much of their history.
Instead, we’re always playing catch up to the rest of the culture; raging on about how right we are until, one day, quietly, we realize how wrong we’ve been and silently edit our Statements of Faith, or softly whisper an apology, or maybe even just find something else to shout about while hoping no one notices how wrong we were before.
Either way, it’s probably a good idea for all of us to abandon this notion of Being Right. Because we’ve been wrong so many times before it’s just not worth it to die on yet another hill only to realize – too late – that this was the wrong hill…again.
Let’s try something new: Why not admit that none of us really knows everything [or almost anything] about God, or the Universe? Why not embrace our ignorance and simply go back to that simple instruction from Jesus: “Love God. Love Others.”?
All of our assumptions in the past about God, ourselves, the world around us, doctrines, hierarchy, sexuality, humanity and pretty much everything else, have been mostly wrong anyway.
Trying so hard to “Be Right” has proven to be very, very wrong.
Let’s try to embrace the beautiful mystery of God and focus more on “knowing” Christ the way someone knows an intimate lover.
I mean, really, doesn’t that sound like a LOT more fun?
Anything else is just a waste of time.
Don’t you agree?
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Keith Giles is the author of the 7-part best-selling “Jesus Un” book series from Quoir Publishing. His latest -and final book – in this series, Jesus Unarmed: How The Prince Of Peace Disarms Our Violence is available now. Keith is also the host of Second Cup with Keith [a new solo podcast available now on the Ethos Radio App, for Apple and Android and on Spotify; and the Heretic Happy Hour Podcast [along with co-hosts Matthew Distefano, Dr. Katy Valentine, and Derek Day], and the new Imaginary Lines YouTube Channel with poet Darrell Epp. He and his wife, Wendy, currently live in El Paso, TX and work with Peace Catalyst International.