Western thought is pervaded by the idea that truth is the greatest of virtues. As if God were a cosmic computer testing our exam sheets and counting up the checks and crosses. As if we could look at the next person’s score sheet and tell whether or not they’ll receive a passing grade.
There’s an inherent arrogance in the belief that we can totally understand God. Because the truth is that God is an eternal mystery. Immutable. Knowable, yet transcendent.
He’s much too large to fit in our skulls. Much too powerful to be impacted by what we believe him to be.
It’s ultimately the sin of pride to think we can attain perfect knowledge of God. That we can take hold of absolute truth.
We cannot live our lives based on truth alone. We cannot move through this life without faith, which is trust in the absence of understanding. And an obsession with truth to the exclusion of (or selective amnesia) of faith and love is the very heart of the Pharisee.
Is it better for a child to trust his father implicitly, or for that child to only trust his father as far as he understands him?
Obviously, if the father is good, as ours is, it is much better to have faith than to have knowledge.
When we have faith in God, we draw near to him and allow him to modify our desires.
His greatest desire is to make himself our greatest desire. Our ultimate goal is not to have infinite head knowledge of who God is, but to have experiential, heart-level knowledge of God. To know him as a lover knows his spouse.
The Holy Spirit is the most intimate connection we have with God because he literally lives inside us and lets us hear the heartbeat of God.
And his heartbeat is love.
If we don’t take the time to daily listen to God’s heartbeat, we run the risk of preferring the sounds of our own voices.
If we don’t love first and strive to understand second, we run the risk of worshipping Knowledge instead of God.
But we can love people without forsaking truth and conviction.
I can give a gay man a hug and tell him I love him without endorsing his lifestyle. And I don’t need to tell him that I think he’s sinning, either.
I can give a Syrian refugee food and patch his wounds without promoting the Islamic religion. And I don’t need to tell him he needs to convert to Christianity either.
I can lobby for the rights of illegal refugees without promoting illegal immigration. And I don’t need to deport them either.
In fact, Jesus would tell us the same, and likely much more.
Truth and love are embodied in Christ. They are not mutually exclusive.
But we must never forget that love is the greatest of these (1 Corinthians 13:13). Treating people with compassion is more important than judging people based on the law. Because the law only brings death, where grace brings life and deliverance (Romans 7:8-11; Romans 3:21-31).
Life cannot be neatly packaged. Life is difficult, complex, and messy. Life is broken and filled with unspeakable darkness. And much of our understanding comes not through knowledge but through experience.
We don’t really feel compassion for a child slave unless we can somehow taste the horror of abuse that victims of human trafficking are subjected to.
We don’t really feel empathy for homeless men suffering from PTSD unless we can sample the soul-crushing psychological oppression they endure on a daily basis.
The reason why I write dark stories is because I need dark stories to help me feel just a portion of the tears God weeps over the brokenness of our world.
I do not write about violent events to endorse violence, but to empathize with the abused and the hollow.
I do not write about people doing terrible things to endorse them, but to try to understand and improve my own attempts to love people who do terrible things.
Because to think we’re different, that we’re better, is a lie.
We’re all broken. We’re all in need of love and compassion. We’re all in need of a Savior.
“Yeah, but I don’t murder people.”
Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up (1 Corinthians 8:1). You may be different in seeming, but your worth is the same.
Every person is valuable. Every person is loved by God and meant to love God in return. If life were about doing good, we’d all be damned to hell. But thank God that life is about loving God and receiving his mercy and forgiveness, and about being empowered by his Holy Spirit to turn away from sin (not in our own power, but in his–and for his glory!).
Don’t let your mouth become a hand-grenade. Let your heart be a magnet.
Every person falls short of perfect holiness. Our primary calling toward other people is not to tell them when they’re wrong, but to love them even when they are.
If this spoke to you, please, let me know. Comment or share.