April 1, 2020
At times during this Covid-19 pandemic, I have felt overwhelmed with information. Medical experts share information on how this virus spreads. Church experts share information on how pastors are to respond to social distancing. Counselors share information on how families are to get along while being cooped up together. Business consultants share information on how folks can work at home. It is hard to turn on the TV or open up email without being flooded with lots of information.
I am grateful for all who are sharing their knowledge and opinions, but I am reminded that we are not saved by information. In his book A Failure of Nerve: Leadership in the Age of the Quick Fix, Edwin Friedman criticizes a fallacy in our culture that says that if we just collect enough data and if we consult the rights experts, then we can solve all our problems; we can then be saved. But sometimes, we will never have adequate information. Sometimes, experts will be wrong. Sometimes, the mystery of life can’t be reduced to something we can understand.
The Christian faith proclaims that we are not saved by information. We are saved by a relationship with the living God who comes to us in Jesus Christ. The early church struggled against a false teaching called Gnosticism. Gnosticism says that people are saved by getting the right information about God. But this is wrong! True Christianity says we are saved by grace through faith. We are saved as a gift from God who loves us, claims us, and redeems us through Jesus Christ. Our main goal is not to get more information in our heads. Our main goal is to connect our hearts to Jesus. We are saved not because we have figured everything out about God. We are saved because God chooses to rescue us.
Of course, information has its place. God has given us brains to learn. Acquiring proper information helps us live wise and fruitful lives. God wants us to know the right things. But, it is also okay at times to turn off sources of information. It is okay to turn off the TV, disconnect from social media, and put brackets around the advice of so-called experts. It is okay to sit in quiet and trust in God. In John 15:4, Jesus says, “Abide in me as I abide in you,” because it is about maintaining a relationship more than it is about getting information.
What my heart longs for more than information is community. I miss connecting and worshipping with you all in person. I grieve this practice of social distancing. So let’s work together to maintain our connection and to build our relationships with one another, because it is not information that will save us. It’s God’s grace that comes to us through each other.