The Way We Believe, Part 4: What If I’m Wrong?

For part one of this series, click here.
For part two of this series, click here.
For part three of this series, click here

Over the past decade plus, as my understanding of God, the Bible, human beings, and the world has shifted, one of the questions I’ve been asked is, “What if you’re wrong?” So, in this post I want to spend a few moments addressing that very question.

What if I’m wrong?

I’ve lost lots and lots of sleep over this question. I used to lie awake thinking through the way I saw things before, the way I see them now, and wondering if somewhere, somehow I have attached myself to a belief that was less than accurate. 

Then I realized something, something that completely changed the way I think about my faith and my relationship to the Mystery we call God. Here it is: Of course I’m less than accurate about some things. Of course I don’t have it all figured out. 

I’ve changed so much in the past decade, but there’s more change to come. Transformation, which is the goal of spirituality, is a process and experience in which we continually engage. To be a living, breathing human being is to be in flux; we are always becoming who we will be.

This is true both progressively and regressively. 

We often have this image of life and spirituality as being a static experience. I have my beliefs and my doctrinal system and nothing is changing. And while we may hold the same beliefs we always have, the reality is that we are either moving forward, expanding, opening up, and growing, or we are stagnant, contracting, closing off, and shrinking.

We are all changing, the question is not if, but how.

The question about being right or wrong obscures the real point of spirituality, the transformation of our lives, our communities, and the world into a more just and generous reality. 

When Jesus talked about the spiritual life, he didn’t talk in terms of orthodoxy or heresy. He didn’t exhort his followers to the tedious task of pouring over their theology to make sure they had it all correct. Instead, Jesus talked in terms of the kind of life that was being cultivated. His language for this was “fruit.” For Jesus, the kind of character that our lives produce is the best indicator of growth and transformation.

Notice these words of Jesus from Luke 6v43-45 [CEB]:

“A good tree doesn’t produce bad fruit, nor does a bad tree produce good fruit. Each tree is known by its own fruit. People don’t gather figs from thorny plants, nor do they pick grapes from prickly bushes. A good person produces good from the good treasury of the inner self, while an evil person produces evil from the evil treasury of the inner self. The inner self overflows with words that are spoken.

Perhaps we waste too much time wondering about the correctness or incorrectness of our theological system, and not enough on the kind of lives we are living in the world. After all, what does right believing matter if we are transformed into more loving, compassionate, kind, generous, joyful, peacemaking, humble, gracious (you get the idea) human beings. 

The world we live in today needs good fruit.
The world needs people who are being transformed,
who then seek to join God in the healing and restoring of the world. 

And if we do that, who cares if our beliefs are a little bit off here or there? What we believe surely matters, but what does it profit us, or the world, to be “correct,” but not actually living in a way that makes the world better?

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