Years ago, my spiritual director asked me to think about what cloaks I needed to throw off in order to grow closer to God. Maybe you are familiar with the Bible story of blind Bartimaeus in Mark’s gospel in Chapter 10. Jesus is moving through Jericho and a blind beggar calls out to him. When Jesus invites him to come closer, Bartimaeus throws off his cloak, jumps to his feet and goes over to Jesus. Then, Jesus asked him.“What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.” And Jesus restored his sight.
One of the many cloaks I needed to throw off is the cloak of certainty, knowing that what I believe in is right. You may ask why anyone would want to let go of that.
How does certainty about your religious beliefs get in the way of your relationship with God?
When you are certain that all you have been taught to believe is right, you don’t need to question or doubt. You don’t feel the need to look further or go deeper. Why would you? Things are fine just the way they are.
Until they aren’t.
Little by little, bits and pieces of the status quo, the way things have “always been done,” were starting to bother me. I started to question the teachings passed down through centuries that limited the roles women are allowed to play in some churches and that marginalized homosexuals. I started to doubt that some church teachings accurately reflected divine love.
Eventually, it just became too difficult to reconcile the idea of a God who loves with church treatment of many of God’s children. The cloak of certainty maintains the status quo even when it’s time to rethink the status quo.
The cloak of certainty stifles any desire or need to go deeper in your relationship with the divine because it discourages exploration and shuts off questions. Stepping out of your safe comfort zone can be scary. But entertaining doubts about beliefs in God may be an engraved invitation from God to grow in your relationship.
The cloak of certainty attempts to limit the mystery of God. No one can wrap their mind around God because God is absolute mystery. Even using the word “God” is like using “x” in an algebra equation; it’s just a stand-in for the absolute mystery which grounds and supports all that exists. The more we learn about God, the more there is to learn. Certainty tries to neatly wrap up all we know about God but by doing so, it cuts off untold discoveries of all of the fascinating possibilities that God has planned for us.
And finally, I think that this is the most dangerous point: The cloak of certainty can turn your thoughts and beliefs about God into idols. When we cling to our thoughts about God, we are trusting our thoughts instead of trusting God.” Peter Enns, The Sin of Certainty (2016), 19.
Trust is letting go and learning to lean on God and not on your own understanding, as offered in Proverbs 3:5. And heads up: your ego won’t like letting go of the illusion of control, not one little bit.
But we can trust that God will lead us on the right path even though we may know nothing about it.
Do you need someone to talk to about your doubts and questions? Send me an email or sign up for a free 30 minute session. Click here for the link to my schedule.
Voltaire said: “Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd.” Do you agree or disagree? Let me know in the comments.