“Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, ‘If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.’” John 8:31-32NRSVUE
It is wise to pause and sift through our thoughts and emotions regarding important matters. Our most intense thoughts are often filtered through pain, childhood formation and religious malformation. There are no perfect individuals, and thus no teacher has ever been perfect. We spend our lives moving toward wellness by learning, unlearning and learning even more. In our great moments of holy discovery, the open arms of freedom wait on the other side of our second-guessing.
From our time as babies, we are taught to repeat what we hear and see. Elementary school education only expands the expectation to navigate life within the socially acceptable space of repetition. Yes, there are essential skills we must learn to survive, and yes, it is the responsibility of our leaders to teach us those skills. Nonetheless, God has revelation for each one of us that will not always align with the “norms” we have learned.
In the eighth chapter of John, we encounter God’s disruption of “norms” through Jesus. We read about churchy folk wanting to stone a woman to death. We see the power of testimony being challenged, and the notice of Jesus’ soon coming departure. After these things happen in the text, it is apparent to Jesus that questions are swirling in the minds of those around him. They cannot figure out what to believe.
If we can be honest, all of us have found ourselves in situations where we do not readily know what to believe. We are human. As humans, we typically suspend what we believe, take in the surrounding chatter, consider history, weigh consequences and then decide what we are going to believe. This makes for a syndrome of second-guessing. Alone, those practices lack spirituality. They are simply a syndrome—a group of behaviors that occur together and reoccur.
Jesus encourages his followers to keep learning from him, and they will know what is true. Time studying Jesus will spare us from second-guessing syndrome. Rediscovering his ways will guide us toward truths not born of this mind-numbing world—truths that we need to be free from what weighs us down.
Thanks be to God for the witness of Jesus; one who helped us to know what belief looks like from the inside out.
Jesus believed with his whole self and offered his followers a process for believing. Without a doubt, truth will always be confronted by second-guessing syndrome. The hope and prayer are that we will strengthen our discernment by learning the ways of Jesus and more quickly accept what God has shown us is true, even when a lie is easier to believe.
Contact Reverend Monique Crain Spells, Director of Christian Education and Faith Formation of Disciples Home Missions, at email@example.com.