“It’s quite clear that in the final analysis it’s the grace of Christ that liberates us. It’s the experience of the unconditional love that truly sets us free. But first we have to be led to the circumstances that make it possible for this love to get through to us, so that we can sense and experience the need for new life. I believe that it was precisely the circumstances that converted the man living among graves. His experience was that of being excluded. The pain of always being rejected was what finally made him capable of reaching out to Christ. And that’s why Jesus often says that the tax-collectors and the drunkards are more open to the Reign of God than we theologians who have only theories in our heads.” –Richard Rohr, Simplicity, p. 122
This quote follows a section in which Rohr talks about the left-braininess of Protestantism that has made it insistent on logic instead of the holistic type of ministry that Jesus walked and preached. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with the left side of our brains, it’s simply that, if we Christians are insistent on a ministry of love and grace, then we can’t be primarily concerned with being right (or left!), because we’re all wrong, we’re all sinners, we’re all broken. As Rohr points out, the tax-collectors and the drunkards have a leg up on those Pharisees or we theologians who, because we haven’t fallen quite as far, presume we can think our way beyond this need for God and others that derives from our very humanity.
Several years ago an ex-boyfriend of mine spoke truth into my life along these lines by pointing out how often I responded to others’ statements by saying, “I know.” “Erin,” he said gently, “we all know you’re quite a smart person, you don’t need to say ‘I know’ so often. Besides it doesn’t make you look smart, it makes the rest of us feel dumb.” I often think back to those words and find them quite wise: who cares what I know and what I don’t know if it doesn’t help me impart love and grace to those around me? All that knowledge doesn’t amount to wisdom, and if wisdom is what I seek, it certainly doesn’t amount to much at all. So tonight I’m praying for God to continue to be patient in teaching me the virtue of loving and being loved, rather than being right.