When I became a follower of Jesus, I learned beautiful, life-changing truths that altered the course of my life. God brought clarity, direction and peace. I remember the impulse I had to tell everyone in my circle of influence about my convictions. I spoke with such certainty, with such authority.
Some members of my family were persuaded, while most were driven further away from the God I was trying to draw them to. I had learned a lot, but what I didn’t realize back then was just how much I didn’t know. Subconsciously, I believed that as a follower of Jesus, and as a Bible-believing Seventh-day Adventist Christian, I knew everything there was to know about God and about life.
In recent years I have been freed from this burdensome weight of responsibility. I don’t know everything. I don’t have answers to every complex question that arises about life, God or the Bible. In fact, I know very little compared to all there is to know. And in most cases, I don’t even know what I don’t.
Paul, who had an encounter with the resurrected Jesus, and had received visions from God, understood that in this life, “we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part,” he acknowledged, “then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known” (1 Cor 10:12). Earlier in the same letter, he had warned, “If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know” (1 Cor 8:2). In Romans, Paul wrote, “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!” (Rom 11:33).
Ellen White warned, “We have many lessons to learn, and many, many to unlearn. God and heaven alone are infallible. Those who think that they will never have to give up a cherished view, never have occasion to change an opinion, will be disappointed. As long as we hold to our own ideas and opinions with determined persistency, we cannot have the unity for which Christ prayed” (Counsels to Writers and Editors, p. 37).
A culture of humility and one of dogmatism are mutually exclusive. I believe there is much we can be certain about when it comes to God and Bible truths. But there is a whole lot more we don’t know. I believe we are on safe ground when we cultivate an attitude of always being willing to learn more and be corrected.