Whenever I find myself in an argument, I’m usually right. By that, I mean that I’m 100% right. And no one can really say anything to change my mind. Now, if I am honestly researching something or Googling it, then I am completely open to the fact that I don’t know much of anything. But in the “Debate Land,” my posture is different. I know I’m right. And do you know how I know I’m right? Because if I wasn’t completely convinced that what I thought was right… well… then I wouldn’t think it. I’d think something else, something that I thought was more right. Right? What would be the point in thinking something that is wrong? Especially in “Debate Land.”
Now, the interesting thing, the thing that has me hung up recently, is that I’m pretty sure that I’m not the only one thinking this. You think you’re right too. Let’s be honest. You may feign an openminded debate, but the truth is that if you weren’t sure that what you were thinking was right, you’d think something else too. Right? Just like me, if you weren’t convinced you were right, you’d never stop by “Debate Land” at all. You’d Google and read and watch and listen until your view felt more validated. Then you’d go to “Debate Land.” This is what makes it so absurd! If everyone is sure that everyone is right and that everyone else is wrong, and nothing can change anyone’s mind, then what is everyone doing?
At least, if you’re anything like me, that’s what you do. So, my point is… what is the point?
Not “What is the point of debate?” No, that’s the obvious question everyone asks as though commenting and engaging with people over topics is the sin. No, I have (as absurd and unlikely as it may seem) seen actual value in engaging in those conversations online. I’ve seen people grow and change, and the crazier thing is I’ve had my mind changed by these kinds of interactions. Yes, Facebook comments have changed my mind before. So, the point isn’t that commenting and questioning is the dark side; the point is in the posture. When I am closed–when I’m sure of what I believe to be true–it’s at that moment that I stop learning. Truth no longer has a connection to me. I’m done. I’m on the defense, and you know what that means. When you’re on the defence. Nothing can get in, even truth.
It boils down to a posture that I hate more than anything: a posture of (gulp) vulnerability!
When it comes to Christians, like myself, it’s all the more ironic. We have this name for Jesus; it’s something John coined that we really like because it helps us to express what encountering Jesus is like. We call him “The Truth.” As in, when we encounter him, it’s like meeting the personification of truth itself. Now, when we first “meet Jesus” so to speak, we all have the same story: we come to a point of humility, openness, and vulnerability as we realize the possibility who he is, and who we are not.
We all meet “The Truth” the same way: through humility. That’s a hard pill for me to swallow, because it makes me vulnerable. I have to accept the possibility that I was wrong, maybe for a good portion of my life. Ouch. But that is the only way to encounter truth. And it doesn’t change. To steal the verbage of Paul: are we so foolish? Having begun this work by humility, are we finishing it by pride? That’s not what Paul said, I know. I just like the sentence structure. We have to be open to receive, we have to be vulnerable in order to grow.
Most people hate to be vulnerable, but that is the posture of a learner. In order to be true learners–or truth seekers–we have to lower our defenses to the possibility of being wrong. We have to become vulnerable.