I recall sitting in a Bible class in college when one of my professors shared an interesting thought – “In fleeing from Babylon be sure you don’t run past Jerusalem.” I have had reason to welcome that advice many times through the years. Sadly, people tend to swing to extremes. Just a quick look at the political climate in our country will bear this out. In reacting to the opposition there is a tendency, even a strong a appeal to run too far in the other direction.
I was reminded of this again this week as I was reading a post on social media. This time the post had certain religious overtones. A good brother, who I respect greatly went too far. I know he is passionate about God’s truth and I believe his intentions are as pure as gold refined in the fire, but on this occasion I have to disagree with him.
Now at this point in time you are probably asking yourself, “Who is he talking about?” or “In what way did he run to far?” Those are questions I am not prepared to answer directly. The point of this post isn’t to disparage a friend, or enter into a debate over beliefs, but to emphasize an important point – we all need to be careful not to overreact, or to wrongly judge other’s motives, or to be hyper-critical to the point of undermining our own efforts to compel and convict others of the truth.
I am not suggesting we compromise when it comes to truth. Some things are immutable! Some things are so black and white that there is no room for introducing any other colors into the spectrum. Let me give you a few examples:
- “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the father, except by me” (John 14:6).
- “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and to day, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).
- “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through his Son” (Romans 6:23).
With that being said, I am concerned about a world in which we have abandoned intellectual honesty in an effort to be right. I should always be learning, growing, and expanding my realm of understanding. In some of our training at work, one of the principles we teach is “you don’t know what you don’t know.” We apply this in marriage relationships. To put it simply there may be things we don’t know that we don’t know – but our spouse does! Let me try clarify.
- I know that I don’t know how to do algebra. I admit my ignorance when it comes to advance math.
- But there is other information in the universe I don’t even know exists – I don’t know what I don’t know. It could that piece of information that changes my perspective on something.
Now some of you are thinking – Trent has lost his mind. He has embraced some kind of moral relativism, but this is not the case. I love to travel to new places, experience new cultures and discover new mysteries. In the past couple of years I added a new adventure to my bucket list – 27 Chaco’s in the Dominican Republic. It is a series of hikes, caves, waterfalls, and natural pools that are supposed to be breathtaking. Up until a couple of years ago I didn’t know this even existed and therefore it wasn’t on my buck list – I didn’t know what I didn’t know.
All this to come back to my point. There are things we can know. There is absolute truth. These are things that we must hold to with firmness and resolve. However, there are things we embrace devoid of facts, or based on partial information and we defend them as if they were absolute truth. In my experience this most often happens when we are fleeing something we know is contrary to our point of view but swing too far to the other side of the spectrum – we run past the promised land.
I have struggled more than usual with this post because I feel the need to explain some of the concepts in fear that many are already well beyond the walls of Jerusalem in the fear of what I might be saying. Words like tolerance, understanding, open-mindedness all have pejorative connotations because of how they have been redefined. As one person once told me, “it is good to be open minded, but not so open-minded that your brains fall out.” I think he was talking about fleeing Babylon and running past Jerusalem.
The point of this post is to encourage each of you to be one of those rare individuals who stop, wait, investigate, weigh the evidence and then make an informed decision for yourself. Just because someone of knowledge, intellect, position, power, or even someone you respect has said something doesn’t mean you have to agree. Neither do you have to overreact.
So I will close this post by antagonizing all of my closest friends and associates. I don’t agree with everything I hear taught in my church fellowship. I often disagree with the preacher or Bible school teacher (thought I try not to be disagreeable). I don’t agree with much of what is communicated or acted upon within my political affiliation. I disagree often with members of my family. I find both CNN and Fox News intellectually dishonest at times. All of that may sound pretty negative, but what I am really saying is that I choose to think for myself and I try (though I often fail) to take a reasoned approach to what I see, read, hear, or experience. In doing so I hope that tempers what I post on social media, leads me closer in my understanding of truth, and allows me to slow my pace as I inch closer and closer to the spiritual Jordan each and every day.