In my younger years I had a lot more answers than I do now. Things were absolutely black or white, right or wrong, yes or no, in or out—but a lot of that is beginning to change. The more I travel and read and wrestle and think, the less simplistic things seem. I now find myself uncomfortable with sweeping generalities, neat little categories, and well-defined classifications.
We evangelicals are good at building rigid walls out of dogmatic stones . . . cemented together by the mortar of tradition. We erect these walls in systematic circles then place within each our oversimplified, ultra-inflexible “position.” Within each fortress we build human machines that are programmed not to think but to say the “right” things and respond the “right” way at any given moment. Our self-concept remains undisturbed and secure since no challenging force is ever allowed over the walls.
Occasionally, however, a strange thing happens: A little restlessness springs up within the walls. A few ideas are challenged. Questions are entertained. Alternative options are then released. Talk about threat! Suddenly our superprotected, cliché-ridden answers don’t cut it. The stones start to shift as the mortar cracks.
We can react in one of two ways. One, we can maintain the status quo “position” and patch the wall by resisting change with rigidity. Two, we can openly admit “I do not know” and let the wall crumble. Then we can do some new thinking by facing the facts as they actually are. The more popular, naturally, is the first. We are masters at rationalizing around our inflexible behavior. We imply that change always represents a departure from the truth of Scripture.
Now some changes do pull us away from Scripture, and these must definitely be avoided. But let’s be absolutely certain that we are standing on scriptural rock, not on traditional sand. We have a changeless message—Jesus Christ—but He must be proclaimed in a changing, challenging era. That calls for a breakdown of stone walls and a breakthrough of fresh, keen thinking based on scriptural insights.
No longer can we offer tired, trite statements that are as stiff and tasteless as last year’s gum beneath the pew. The thinking person deserves an intelligent, sensible answer, not an oversimplified bromide mouthed by insensitive robots within the walls.
All I ask is that you examine your life. For, as Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.”
If you’ve stopped thinking and started going through unexamined motions, you’ve really stopped living and started existing.