“Know Me”

balloon-912841_640There are so many things going on in the world right now. Some of them are so terrible that if I dwell on them, I will not be able to function. People are constantly posting opinions on Facebook, and implicitly demanding that others also form and express opinions either in agreement or opposition. It is tempting to give in and feel like I have to decide right now and post my own definite opinion about whatever issue is “hot” at the moment. I think we all have a strong desire to be right and to be heard, and to be heard being right. And social media, especially, makes us feel like we need to make sure we let people know what we think about anything and everything. Especially in the evangelical sub-culture, we have convinced ourselves that it is vital to have all the right opinions about nearly everything, and that if we don’t think all the right things, we will be in danger of heresy and maybe even of losing our salvation. Lately, though, I’m beginning to believe that having all the “right” opinions may not be as important as I have thought.

As I enter my thirties, I am feeling a shift in mindset. I feel like as a child, as for most children, my thoughts and opinions were shaped by the thoughts and opinions of my parents and family. Even though my mom made sure that we knew how to think on our own, I thought what I was taught to think. I don’t think it’s possible to escape this, and to an extent it is necessary to train our children this way for the basic things in life. Then in my late teens I realized that I needed to make my faith and my opinions my own. I needed to see what I really thought about things, instead of just blindly ascribing to the thoughts and opinions of my family, my pastors, and my teachers. Each of these phases is a necessary part of growing and maturing, but now I’m moving into a place where I need to stop trying to figure out what I think about things, and instead just focus on knowing Christ. Recently, I had the blessing of being prayed for by a dear friend. She prayed that I would have a tangible experience of the Holy Spirit. I believe that I did, and I felt Him impressing upon me that I needed to stop trying to figure out the right things to think, and instead just focus on knowing Him. I felt as if He was saying, “Just know Me. Don’t worry about knowing what to say. Don’t worry about knowing a black or white answer to a question. Just know Me.” Because the truth is, if I truly know Jesus, I will love Him. If I truly love Jesus, I will listen to Him. And if I’m in the habit of listening to Jesus, I will learn His heart. I will care about the things He cares about, and I will make the right decisions about how to act and treat people, even if I still don’t know what to think. It’s not about having the right opinions and living out the right dogma. It’s about knowing who God is and what He cares about, and walking in His Spirit. If I’m walking in His Spirit, and seeking His face, I cannot go wrong. It’s harder this way. It takes faith in something other than myself. It’s much easier to decide what I think about something and leave it at that. This way I have to come upon things and evaluate them prayerfully and one at a time. It’s not a one time decision. It’s a constant conversation. And I can’t take credit for “figuring it out.”

It feels scary to live this way, and I am not doing it right. I am more likely to spend my time on Facebook than in seeking my Savior’s face. I get caught up reading comments on controversial issues, getting angry at people for stating opinions I don’t agree with — or don’t think I agree with — and spending all my mental energy trying to decide what I really believe. All of this without prayer and without any real action.
Of course I am not saying that it doesn’t matter what we think. What we think determines how we live, and we are called to be discerning and to not allow ourselves to be “tossed to and fro by the waves and be carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes” (Ephesians 4:14). But the way that we ensure we can stand strong is by “the knowledge of the Son of God” (Ephesians 4:13). That is what will bring us to maturity and discernment. What I am saying is that it matters who we know. It matters who we look to to help us formulate our opinions. We will not come to the “right” opinions by looking to our favorite political party or spokesperson. We will not come to the “right” opinions by reading headlines or blogs or watching YouTube videos until we find someone who says what we want to believe. And we certainly won’t come to the right opinions by trying to figure things out in our own minds without prayer and a knowledge of the Word of God.

I’ve come to see that, in my own life, I’ve allowed having the right opinions to distract me from where my true focus should be. It’s easy to feel like I’m doing something real when I decide my views on a certain issue, or share something I think is important. But the truth is that I can have the right opinion all I want, but if it doesn’t grow in a mind and heart focused on knowing and loving Christ, it’s not going to bear much eternal fruit. And there seems to be a lot more grey in the world than there is black and white. So instead of being consumed with being right and being affirmed by others in my “rightness,” why not focus on knowing the heart of the One who made me, and the One who made each of the individuals and groups of people who are affected by these issues. Because debates about opinions and issues can blind us to the people — the actual image-bearers of God — who we are called to love as we love ourselves. They can stir up anger in us toward others, and cripple us from doing much actual good in the world. But if we truly know Christ, we will know and love the heart of Christ, and we will begin to look more and more like Him. And it won’t matter anymore whether or not we think the right things, because we will be loving and obeying the right God, not one made in our own image. And we obey Him day by day, moment by moment, situation by situation, vote by vote. And that requires a lot more listening and stillness than typing and deciding.

  • http://theishmaelfactor.org Jerry Sherman

    I think this is wise and important, especially timely this year, when we justify ourselves by party affiliation. It’s the message of 1 Samuel, about wanting a king, to go before you. We have our only King in Jesus.

  • Jenise Flowers

    I so agree with you, Megan 🙂 No, really, these thoughts have been on my mind so much in recent weeks and when I started reading the book of Proverbs every month and asking God to bind my mind to the mind of Christ. It has become what I really care about as well; to have His knowledge and understanding, love and compassion.