Whenever people start talking about something that they can’t resolve, or that is completely askew from the start, I get very uneasy. It happens all the time.
I was in my small group at church when the discussion turned to whether or not all sin is the same. I knew something was amiss, but didn’t know how to set it straight. It bothered me so much that I went home and made my friend Bob help me write an article on it (“Degrees of Sin”). Last week, I was in Starbucks and overheard a group of ladies talking about God. Their entire conversation seemed so pretentious and silly, and I couldn’t stop eavesdropping. I wanted to fix it. I was coming unraveled inside. I just sat there rereading the same page in my book.
I have always been this way, partly because I genuinely want to help people, and partly because I genuinely want to be thought of as helpful. I am a mixed bag. Sitting there in Starbucks, I had one of those “Aha!” moments, the kind that when you tell other people they look at you with an expression that says, Um, you had to think about that? So that is what you’ll probably think when you hear this, but nevertheless, things like this are meaningful when they hit you at the right time.
Part one of my brilliant realization was this [I literally said this to myself as the words came to mind]: I don’t know everything. And it is very unlikely that I ever will. Plus, even if I did, I couldn’t be everywhere to tell everyone whatever it is that they need to know … I am not Jesus.
The world is full of unresolved and misguided conversations. People desperately need to be taught and led. And I believe that I’m supposed to play a role in some of that. But when I get all worked up about everything and start feeling like people will not be able to get through unless I know all the answers and can fix their problems, I make myself out to be Jesus. I want to be the one they turn to for whatever they need. Again, some of that is born out of a desire to help. But at some level it makes me more like Lucifer than Jesus in that I think I should replace God. That kind of thinking got us in a lot of trouble, you know.
Then the next little chat that I had with myself went like this: I need Jesus. He knows everything … [pause in thought, gears clanking] … Wait, it’s not just that I need Jesus because He knows everything and can help me help these people. These people actually need Jesus too. He is the Good Shepherd. I don’t need to be an expert in everything. I just need to be an expert in one thing, which is to help people discover and relate to Jesus so that He can teach them directly. That’s the Gospel! That’s the Gospel! That’s the good news that Jesus is available to anyone who will simply come to Him by faith!
I got in a pretty good and long discussion over the weekend about a variety of apologetic issues. The girl I was talking to is a believer but had a lot of questions. I didn’t have the answers to most of them. But I didn’t fret about it. In the end, I found myself telling her that she wanted to be God [takes one to know one]. “Most people don’t get to hear the Gospel as plainly as we do”, she said, “and that sucks.” I agreed and said, “It seems to me like you are saying: ‘God, this sucks, and because I don’t understand it, you suck’ … I don’t understand it completely either. But I trust that God does. I honestly don’t think He is stupid about this just because I am.”
So our conclusion was that her questions were okay, and that God wanted them all on the table, but that she would have to follow Him to get answers and not the other way around. It was so refreshing and so right to admit that I am not the way and the truth and the life, and to proclaim that Jesus is.