Thursday, August 03, 2006

Living with uncertainty

There is a human preference for certainty, to want to have life neatly delineated, the boundaries safely drawn, so we can huddle safely within. We want the rules and the answers carefully set out. most of all, we want tangible proof that we are basically right, or, if wrong, a simple system by which a little effort can put us in the right. We want to know that our kind of people (whatever dimension we define ourselves by) have basically got it together and the world belongs to us (or if not, then it's because of some conspiracy, and one day the tables will be turned. This is the essence of fundamentalism, a system that provides security for the insecure. But this is not the life that Jesus calls us to. the life of faith is not the life of knowledge, though knowledge must be its foundation stone. But we are not called to cling to the ground but to fly like eagles. We are not called to justify the known, but embrace the unknown. we are not called to manufacture our own goodness, but rest in His. We are not called to save our lives, but to lose them. We do not have all the answers; to claim we do is to make them up ourselves. yes, there are absolute truths, precious beyond our comprehension because they will stand every test, and be our refuge in the earthquake storm and flood. but there are spaces, tensions even, between those truths, and it is in that place where, so often, we must live and move and have our being. cling to one aspect of truth, ignoring the rest; one verse of scripture at the expense of its complement, and you can no longer move forward and grow. but, in the inbetween places, we must step forward with faith, trusting that the Holy Spirit will lead us into truth, as was promised, from one degree of glory to another. the command, I seem to recall, was to love, not to pontificate. It is as much a part of Truth to honestly admit what we do not know, as well as to staunchly proclaim what we do know.

4 comments:

Patchouli said...

Yes, to love. Pontificate--what a bloated word.
Thank you for reminding me---

sheela said...

'We are not called to justify the known, but embrace the unknown. we are not called to manufacture our own goodness, but rest in His'

Thank you - I needed this challenge!!

PamBG said...

As someone who grew up fundamentalist (in the way that the word used to be used), I wonder if it isn't fear that's behind the desire for certainty.

There is something related about 1) fear and 2) needing absolute certainty and 3) needing to draw circles that shut the "wrong" kind of people out.

Lynne said...

I think you're right. There's a kind of vicious circle in operation: legalistic beliefs --> fear --> the hunger for certainty --> the need to justify yourself --> an us and them mentality because "they" aren't following my rules (then they have to be wrong, otherwise my whole system comes crashing down)--> hatred contempt and prejudice --> further leagalism. May God have mercy on all of us, for which of our hearts is totally immune? Only grace can change us.