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Why loving is better than being right

January 15, 2013

Whenever there’s a debate, especially one as hot as gay vs. Christian, we religious folk feel the need to declare our theological position. We’ve got to know where we stand, or at least others tell us they need to know where we stand. So, we do just enough homework to be able to make a declaration. And now we’re all armed with our theological positions, and we’re arguing, a lot.

Here’s the thing, though. We’ve all been taught enough about hermeneutics and exegesis to be dangerous, which usually means we think we know more than we do. And you know what? Knowledge puffs up (1 Cor. 8:1). Knowledge strokes our ego, and the more Bible verses we know that can back up our theology, the more knowledge we think we have.

And it’s not lost on me that I just used a Bible verse to prove my point. Irony people. I’m sure someone somewhere will be able to refute my point with another Bible verse or at least find a flaw in my logic. Of course there’s a flaw. I’m human. I am fundamentally flawed by definition, and here’s a little secret: [said in a whisper] we all are.

That’s the insanity of all this. Do you see it? We’re human, finite beings with limited understanding. We can never fully understand God, and yet we spend enormous amounts of energy trying to explain where He stands on . . . everything. We all have biases, not one of us is objective in the pure sense. We all have limited experience, unique experience. My experience is not exactly the same as any other person on the planet, thus I interpret things at least slightly differently from everyone.

Does that mean it’s a free for all and we shouldn’t even try to form theological positions? No. But it does mean that none of us has cornered the market on being right. No matter how much you know, you can always learn something from another person. Understanding that, my friends, is what’s called humility. “Don’t think of yourself more highly than you ought” (Romans 12:3). Yep, I’m doing it again. Another verse to prove my point. We’ve become so good at that, haven’t we?

The thing about the Bible is that you can find a verse to prove almost any point. You can also find a verse to contradict almost anyone else’s point.

The other thing about the Bible is that God did a ridiculously risky thing. You might call it free will on steroids. He let people tell His story. Remember people? Flawed finite beings with limited understanding? Yeah, He let us explain who He is. A bunch of flawed, ambitious, (mostly) men from a specific culture living in several particular eras in history. And they wrote some crazy stuff over the course of a couple of millennia a couple of millennia ago. Human. Yes, inspired by God, but human nonetheless with all their unique experiences and biases and ambitions and agendas, with specific audiences in mind (this didn’t include “all mankind for all time” because who can really think that much of themselves?). Humans with about 70 years to spend on this planet. Humans who mess up their kids, who get into fights with friends and wars with enemies. Humans with all their passions and prejudices. And God let us write the story.

Think about that. Think about how every character in the Bible is flawed. Not one of them is perfect, save Jesus who saved us. And God, of course. His perfection is a given. But even though He remains perfect, our view of Him is not.

Oh, gosh, here we go. Bring the arguments for inerrancy. Yes, God Himself is inerrant. He is perfect and without flaw. And the Word of God is, too. But the Word of God is Jesus, not the Bible. The Bible says so. (John 1:1-4, 14 if you’d like another proof text right about now.)

Sometimes I think we’ve made an idol of the Bible. Yep, I said it . . . an IDOL. Because we all know that idols can be inherently good things that we pervert or elevate above their rightful places. Could it be that we are so focused on the Bible (trees) that we miss God (forest)?

Think about it this way: Have you ever gone on a road trip? I bet you used a map. Did you trust the map more than you trusted what you could see with your own eyes? I mean, let’s suppose you went to the Grand Canyon. Did you keep your eyes on the map of the Grand Canyon instead of looking at the actual Grand Canyon? I hope not. Because that would be stupid and crazy. Why even go on a road trip if that’s what you’re going to do? You can look at the map at home.

Isn’t that kinda what we do, though? With God? Don’t we sometimes miss Him because we have our heads in a Book? Yes, the Book is very important. Like the map it helps us get to our destination. But that destination is not found on a page. We need to look up, look to God, put the Book down and turn our eyes on Jesus.

And that’s where our intellect fails us. When we do gaze upon Jesus, we are undone. I think that’s precisely why Jesus sums up everything with: Love God. Love people. We don’t have to know much to know how to love.

You know who are the best at love? Babies and dogs. Babies are experts at making us love them, and they can’t even speak let alone form a sound theological argument. And dogs, what creature on this planet loves better than a dog? My point is, love transcends knowledge. Love is the real truth. And love is mysterious, even irrational. But love is the one pure thing we can give. It doesn’t require explanation or defense, and it can change hearts like nothing else.

How about we try it out? Because our strategy of debate isn’t working very well. Oh, and there’s a ton of love in that Book we like so much. Can we do some exegesis on that for a while? I’d love that.

Romans 12
Romans 13:8-10
(just a suggestion to get you started)

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