“The disciples did not understand any of this. Its meaning was hidden from them, and they did not know what he was talking about.” -Luke 18:34
This scripture passage from the gospel of Luke happens to occur after Jesus “predicted” his own death, something pretty important, I’d say; but it could have been said just about anywhere in the New Testament.
Throughout history Christians have looked to the original disciples as exemplars of our faith, as giants of the tradition. ….So it’s kinda funny how ignorant they actually were. Constantly throughout the gospels, the disciples miss the point of what Jesus is doing or teaching. Jesus says, “love your enemies” (Matthew 5:44), a disciple pulls out a sword and tries to kill somebody (Matthew 26:50). Jesus says, “I have food to eat of which you do not know,” and the disciples start searching for his stash (John 4:31-34). Jesus says, “you have to be born from above” and a would-be disciple says, “how do I get back in my mother’s womb?” (John 3)…. pretty gross question, actually. They were comically ignorant about some pretty important things.
It’s all over the place. The disciples are constantly confused about what Jesus is doing, what Jesus is teaching, what Jesus wants them to do…. they don’t even seem to have a clue who Jesus really is!
Are these our exemplars? Are these the folks after whom we should model our own discipleship?
If the gospel were about us believing the right things and knowing the right information, then the New Testament would be pretty hopeless. Even the Apostle Paul admitted that he didn’t know everything (“Now I know in part…” 1 Corinthians 13:12), which was big for Paul to admit, since he tends to be quite confident in his perspective. And we’re no different. We’re just as ignorant today as Paul was in the first century. In fact, I would say quite confidently that there are some things about which I am very sure and also dead wrong.
Thankfully, the gospel is NOT about believing the right stuff and having the correct information. The truth of Christ does not require our belief in it. It’s true with or without us. The gospel isn’t about knowledge, it’s about love…. God’s love!
The gospel is about knowing God, not knowing about God. You can have all the right information and have no relationship with Jesus. And, like the disciples, you can have all sorts of wrong information and yet actually be very good friends with Jesus.
All this is to say…. it’s ok to be wrong. And guess what… that means it’s also ok to disagree sometimes. Being right is overrated. What is more important is being loved and living in a way that reflects God’s love. If Jesus came so that we’d be right all the time, he actually didn’t do a very good job. But if Jesus came to love us and to be in relationship with us, then I think he nailed it. What’s more loving than dying for your friends even when they’re super confused about who you are? (see John 15:13).
“We love because God first loved us.” -1 John 4:19
So consider taking yourself a little less seriously. Consider holding a little more loosely to your desire to be right. And consider what it might look like to be a disciple of Jesus Christ, free—even in ignorance—to live a life of love.
[This post was originally written for publication at www.fccramona.org/news]