A man named Jerry Cook radically changed how I view the Church. Over a span of thirty years, I listened to Jerry speak at conferences and read his writing. I also had the opportunity to sit in several small group settings with Jerry and glean his wisdom. Toward the end of his life, he spoke in our church. Each contact was an honor.
Jerry’s first book, “Love, Acceptance and Forgiveness,” was the seedbed of my understanding of how the Church should function in both heart and deed. That book had a significant impact on the Church across denominational lines and a wide variety of theological opinion. It was one of those rare books that can reveal the heart of God and simplify our calling as people who follow God. Years after writing his first book, Jerry wrote another book titled, “A Few Things I’ve Learned Since I Knew It All.” The title caught my attention.
I was only a few years into pastoring at the time and still developing, so when a noted man of God admits he doesn’t have it all figured out, I want to listen to that voice. It seems we all can get to a place where we think we have this life of faith all figured out. We become confident that our current version of God, Scripture and the Church is the purest.
Somewhere on our journey, we will hopefully encounter a new depth of God where our all-knowing attitude gets lovingly knocked off its prideful pedestal. At that point, our greatest Kingdom potential can be discovered if we are willing to re-label our testimony to read, “A Few Things I’ve Learned Since I Knew It All.”
As someone who is seen as a spiritual father and an elder in the faith, I want to publicly say, I am still working some things out. While it is wise to have an informed position, never forget our position today on matters of faith may differ from the position we hold ten years from now. That is the nature of revelation. We only see parts of a much larger truth. Appearing all knowing to a naïve audience might sell books and secure speaking engagements, but it does not reflect a depth of spiritual maturity.
One of the most mature things we can do is keep our hands open to change and the discovery of a new depth of truth. That openness does not dismantle our essential beliefs. It just takes us deeper to a simpler and less sectarian place where the Spirit is revealing aspects of God and His Kingdom that our current level of understanding cannot discover.