Anyway, this series truly had me thinking. The last several posts and comments/discussions are kid-of a semi lead-up to this post. During the series I tried to publish my thoughts on this but each week gave inspired new thoughts and questions. Thus it has remained in draft limbo of late. It's just now that I feel I can at least hold my breath long enough to hit the "publish post" button. This is a mixture of Jonathan and Steve's thoughts as well as my own.
As you can see from a portion of the graphic from the series the subtitle was "TRUE<" This was inspired and great!!! As listed in my journal the series was: True <
The essence of the messages was this: Truth is less than _topic__! Yeah, that's it. What a person considers that he/she KNOWS or THINKS is the "truth" is not as important as Jesus, Faith, Grace, Hope, and Love. Let me break it down a little more.
There are a lot of bloggers/Christians/churches that want to argue. They all want to be RIGHT! There are even some blogs that's sole purpose is to call people names, "expose heresy", and just to be downright divisive and cruel. I won't link to those blogs as not to seem like making them the focal point of this post, but you don't have to search hard to find any of them. No, as stated above, I have run into these argumentative types all throughout my life. People that believe they KNOW/HOLD the Truth and that all other ideas/thoughts/beliefs are simply wrong or heretical. People have written books and by-laws on what a person HAS to believe in order to follow Jesus.
The problem is that doctrine can have the effect of making God so small. And although it is helpful to help us understand God, Jesus, Faith, Discipleship, etc.. better, in the end it should never become the main priority in one's faith. We can think we know concepts, doctrines, and creeds, but when it comes down to it there will always be disagreement. This usually leads to people becoming harsh towards those who's idea(s) of "Truth/truth" is different than their own. In addition, concepts and ideas are great, but honestly worth NOTHING when it doesn't translate into a way of living!
My last post, on people sincerely sharing why they aren't a Christian is a great example. It was an inspired question and forum to allow others to be heard. But what many people will do with that, what it seems the church is doing with that, is offering MORE KNOWLEDGE; ANSWERS to these real stories. Diminishing and "debunking" their REAL questions, doubts and issues through the means of apologetics, is offering knowledge when most of them are saying that knowledge, or TRUE, is not enough. I need REAL! But that seems to be the only way Christianity (for the most part) responds. Why is that?
Being a follower of Christ was never about holding knowledge, but a better way of living. In Christ's final words, he tells his disciples to "GO"....
There are many problems with thinking that you "know" the answers. It makes a person complacent in their pursuit of God. When we become complacent we forget that merely "true" is vastly different from REAL! And one thing that I have seen from a decade in ministry is that people are more interested in a faith that's REAL than the are in a faith who's approach is a piling on of abstract concepts! When being a Christian is all in our head, then it is far from real! When it's stuck in our head, it is not found in our hands, out tongues, our feet and our hearts! We need to get past conceptual/theoretical faith into a faith that is real and works in a real world!
What does that mean? Well, it means that we can argue about these concepts all day long, but if we go to bed at night and these concepts have not made a difference in the way we live out our lives... or if we have wasted a lot of time ARGUING (for the record I love discussion of concepts, and am fine with someone disagreeing with me (I actually encourage people to critically think about what I'm saying), but there is a huge line between discussion and arguing) and not living then it is not real. To be a Christian is to be REAL. Christ came to be real. He dealt with reality. He didn't escape from it, he didn't argue with it, he just lived the kingdom life within it!
TRUE less than JESUS
What about TRUE less than FAITH?
Faith is tough. what "having faith in God/Jesus" truly means in all of it's depth and breadth, is not as important as living in that faith... as best we understand it. We can't wait until we hold all the "answers" on that subject before we allow our faith to become real. In fact, I think one of the problems with most of the churches/Christians/bloggers who spend 99% of their time "fighting false prophets", "heretical knowledge" and "Defending the faith", is the sad understanding that we all can easily fall into; that it is easier to argue concepts than to try to live out our limited understanding of faith within reality. Steve called this "a form of escapism". Faith is part of that active command: GO...
But what's worse is not so much the disagreements...those are bound to happen. There are a lot of questions that any honest Christian has... a lot of questions Jesus left us with! But many of those who think they hold all the answers and knowledge, spend their time defending that knowledge. And everyone knows that any good defence is good offence. The problem is that many times these people (and I have been guilty of this), can let their offence become offensive! I am surprised at how little grace happens in these encounters. I would even go as far as to say that grace can be the difference between argument and conversation. But having the Truth is not enough. Grace needs to be offered, and grace comes only out of humility. I personally think humility can only come for many of us by acknowledging that we don't hold all the knowledge, and that God is far bigger than a collection of concepts!
TRUE is less than GRACE
I think out of all of these, the last two are the most important, because it is the ones that many people have the hardest trouble making real: Hope and Love. So little of our degrading arguments about who's right and who's not is void of hope and love! In the sacred scriptures for all Christians, The Bible, whether we agree or disagree about the knowledge of it being inerrant and infallible, the central message remains the same: Hope! It is a narrative of hope. Hope for the hopeless. But what's to hope for?... What hope is there in someone choosing to follow in the way of Christ when all they ever see are the hopeless arguments and the unloving comments? Knowledge of the "truth" is important, but it is far less important than hope. Hope is greater than True!
And what about love? 1 Corinthians 13 says, "If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal." I know that many of those who are longing for a spiritual fulfillment look at Christianity and churches and what they hear is similar in worth to white noise, static, a "resounding gong". The cacophony of our argument of what is "truth" and what isn't; what is wrong and what is right, turns people away. we have become the dwellers who's domestic disputes are so frequent, loud, and cruel that we drive out all our neighbors. We are the ones who call each other harsh names, only to turn around to say "For God so loved the world...".
We can KNOW that love exists, but very rarely do we let it leak over into becoming a true reality in our own lives. In 1 Cor 13, the greatest of "all these", including "knowledge" is love. Without love we as Christ's followers are nothing. In John 15, Christ has only one command... and that command is love! Christ goes on to say that true love requires sacrifice, one to "lay down their life"(v. 13), to give of your WHOLE self... to lay it down!
"Showing that Love is REAL (more than true), shows others that God/Christ's love is also REAL (more than simple knowledge)." (--Steve)
Arguing about God's love IS NOT REAL! Blogging about God's love is not real! Simply preaching about God's love IS NOT REAL! Love is active! Love has to be seen and felt. Love isn't content to sit and type or stand safely behind a podium and preach. Love has to be something more! Love has to be out there, DOING! Knowledge is fine, well, and good, but Jesus LIVED love. Love bleeds! Love hurts! Love is "GO"!!!!
Love is Greater than True!
TRUE is less that LOVE
The Truth Is Not Enough!
It wasn't enough for Christ, it shouldn't be enough from his followers!