If you have a number of Christian friends in your Facebook network or Twitter feed, it’s not uncommon to regularly come across blog posts that are “in defense of” a certain principle, offer a rebuttal to another argument or pose a strongly worded response to someone else’s thoughts on faith.
In many parts of evangelicalism, social media has fueled a culture that fosters sharp answers and instant responses to questions that—before the era of social media—commanded real contemplation.
Everyone seemingly has an answer, because somewhere along the line, that’s what culture mistakenly told us to look for, and that’s what we mistakenly spend our time arguing about online: answers.
A Question of Priorities
It’s hard to know exactly when it happened, but at some point, a certain portion of the contemporary Church got its priorities mixed up. At some point, the Church became more about what we know than who we know.
And that’s why the Church is in danger: It’s in danger of fracturing; of becoming more known for hostility than love; of becoming a house of debate instead of a house of worship; of becoming a place for intellectual sparring matches instead of a place that embodies the Body of Christ reaching out to those in need.
The danger, though, isn’t that we don’t find all of the answers. The danger is that we think we can know them.
Because faith doesn’t demand answers. Faith, by very definition, is being comfortable with what we don’t know.
Belief vs. Faith
Somewhere along the line, we started confusing belief with faith, but in reality, they are two very different things. (“You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that …” James 2:19).
Belief is simply an acknowledgement of facts that we judge to be true; faith is putting your trust in something beyond yourself, even if it is beyond understanding. Faith, in a Christian sense, is about not only believing that God is real, but that God knows what He’s doing even when we don’t. That we don’t have to know the reasons why He does things—we’re only required to put our trust in Him that He’s knows what’s doing.
But some noisy sects of our modern Church have placed a priority on drawing lines in the sand and separating fundamental truths from gray area ideas.
Our mission has shifted from embracing the wonder of an infinite God to building a box of absolute truths that let us understand Him and allow us to correct the “misconceptions” of others.
In doing so, we risk misplacing where the emphasis of what Christianity should be about.
It’s not about our understanding; it’s about what God chooses to reveal.
The Peace of Revelation
That kind of faith is hard to represent in a 70-word Facebook comment. The only words too strong in social media have become “I don’t know,” when in reality, those are some of only words that apply in some scenarios.
In Orthodoxy, G.K. Chesterton said it like this, “Mysticism keeps men sane. As long as you mystery you have health; when you destroy mystery you create morbidity.”
When we stopped asking questions—or at least acknowledging uncertainties—and start only clinging to answers, we make God into something we can understand.
But full understanding was never intended to be a requirement of salvation. God asks for trust and reliance.
When Job, relying on his human understanding of the idea of justice, questioned why a loving God would take away everything in his life, instead of offering an explanation, God eventually replied: “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand.” The story of Job is one that tells the acts of a righteous man, but also one of a man that learned humility—finding out that there are things only God can understand—despite his commitment to faith.
Truth Is About Trust
We live in a culture that craves easy answers and quick solutions. It’s a culture that wants burgers our way, right away, the distills entire complex news stories into 15-second sound bytes and desires opinions only nuanced enough that they aren’t too long for a tweet.
But when our culture of easy answers meshes with a God of infinite wonder, we start to misunderstand what truth is all about. Truth isn’t just about knowing answers. It’s about knowing that we won’t always get them, but trusting God anyways.
There are core beliefs, absolute truths and essential principles that God has laid out—but there are also parts of His Word that are purposely beyond our comprehension.
Because though God desires for us to accept his infinite truth, he’s also looking for followers who aren’t afraid of unconditional trust—even in the face of unending mysteries.
Jesse Carey is a mainstay on the weekly RELEVANT Podcast and member of RELEVANT's executive board. He lives in Virginia Beach with his wife and two kids.