Starting with an early ward leadership meeting, a recurring theme at church today was the Old Testament scripture Proverbs 3:5. Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
One of the challenges I face more than I'd like in my religious community,
and in the larger Christian community, is feeling at odds with some of
the voices I hear--voices that insist their points of view, their
cultural traditions, their politics, or their interpretations of the
gospel are, well, gospel.
While I daily witness amazing
acts of human goodness, some of the things I hear coming out of the
mouths of some followers of Christ make my heart ache.
listening to and trying to understand people who are in spiritual or emotional pain or who are at the margins (either in the church or in our society), some openly make assumptions about them, swoop in with
religious certainty, and tell them they are to blame or that they are
unequivocally wrong for feeling what they feel, being who they are, or thinking what they think.
Instead of loving the ones, some scapegoat them and circle the wagons around the 99s, ostensibly for all of our sakes. But is it really? Or is it about controlling the herd?
Instead of being open to further light when we
don't actually know why something is the way it is, or even if it should be the way it is, some fill the vacuum
with reasoning that has no real basis, including, sometimes,
claiming that it is what God wants (click here for a case in point).
To be clear: I know that I am often wrong about things, both small and
large. Even though I am well into my middle age, I am a neophyte when it
comes to faith and believing. So I wonder, am I the one who is
wrong when my heart aches? And, honestly, if I am, geez, do I want to be a part of
I took a drive after church to untangle some of my thoughts. This kind of wide open view can help with that.
My gradual epiphany over the course of the day (well, really over the course of my life): The passage in Proverbs admonishes us to trust in God. It does not admonish us to lean unto the understanding of other people (their own understanding). In fact, there are scriptures that specifically tell us not to do that. Sometimes people are right. But sometimes they are not. Just because a person in authority says something, or a majority of sincerely faithful people believes something, or people we look up to agree about something, it does not make it so.
For followers of Christ, perhaps the hardest truth of all to discern is truth that contradicts the things that sometimes come out of the mouths of people who are otherwise following Christ.
At least for now, and likely forever, I'm going to keep working at it. With all my heart. An open heart. Which sometimes aches. And is sometimes right and sometimes wrong.