Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:2-3) (NIV)
In the Winnie the Pooh story by A. A. Milne, Rabbit suggests they cure Tigger of his bouncing by losing him in the woods overnight.
“Oh, we'll find him again next morning, and mark my words, he'll be a humble Tigger, a sad and small Tigger, an ‘Oh, Rabbit, am I glad to see you’ Tigger. And it'll take the bounces out of him, that's what!”
The misguided plan backfires and it’s Rabbit himself who gets lost. His friends rescue him and he comes out of the long night humbled from his pride.
When it comes to nonessential doctrines, I feel like Rabbit. I used to be confident of my beliefs and critical of those who differed. I reveled in debates to prove my points but what came out of my mouth was often intended to make me win rather than magnify Jesus.
Students of theology are soon faced with a bramble of opinions and the thorny disagreements that have plagued church history. They learn how wholly inadequate human speech is for heavenly truths and feel the prickliness of wordy debates. They realize navigation by human intellect without direction from the Holy Spirit leaves us thrashing in circles far removed from God’s path.
It’s time to stop pretending I or any human can fully elucidate subjects like predestination or eschatology. I must admit I’m Rabbit, lost in the dark woods, afraid and confused. I can’t get myself free of the tangle of nonessential doctrines.
From outside the forest I hear voices. Jesus and my truest friends are searching for me. They’re calling me out of the maelstrom. I no longer have to systematize biblical conundrums. I need only follow the voice of Jesus, return to his simple gospel, and let him bring me past the doctrinal thickets into the full light of grace.
I went into the bramble of secondary doctrines with an attitude of “I have answers that will unbounce others.” I’m coming out of those same woods a broken Rabbit, an “Oh, Jesus, am I glad to see you” Rabbit.
Prayer: King Jesus, may humility close my mouth except to glorify you.