Let's Show the World How To Be Wrong

As Christ followers, we can teach something very important to our culture — how to be wrong.  

Being wrong is a lost art in our day. No one, it seems, is ever wrong. Every celebrity apology is shaded by blame-shifting. Every political flip-flop an exercise in buck-passing. From Ryan Lochte and Ray Lewis to Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, no one owns up any more. No one models real contrition.  

Non-repentance is sneaking into our churches as well. Fallen leaders blame their families of origin. Bad theology is excused rather than repented.  

But scripture teaches us another way. The Bible commands us to own up to wrongdoing.

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.  
—James 5:16

The Bible tells us that God values honest regret for wrongdoing.  

This is what the Lord says … "This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word." 
—Isaiah 66:2

The Bible teaches that hiding and blame-shifting are unhealthy.  

When I refused to confess my sin, my body wasted away. 
—Psalm 32:3

In fact, Genesis tells us that hiding was the first consequence of sin. Repentance is core to our way of life. When Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick," he was talking about the morally sick — wrongdoers. We cannot even begin to follow Jesus until we’re wrong about something. The path of discipleship begins at the trailhead of repentance.  

This is a truth that’s easy to forget when facing our shame. We don’t like to be wrong, so we follow the example of our first forefathers — we hide it, excuse it, or blame someone else for it. But the ironic and beautiful truth is that confession may be the most useful tool for proclamation at our disposal. Our current cultural climate values authenticity very highly. We are wary of fakes and weary of empty promises. We long for the real deal, even if what is real is also stained. We look for what is true more than what is right.  

I’m a fan of Aaron Sorkin, the screenwriter who created The West Wing, A Few Good Men, and The Newsroom. This week, I read a long and candid interview with Sorkin that covered his failures in writing (Studio 60) and life (drug addiction). When I reached the end, I only liked him more.  

Could it be that Aaron Sorkin has something to teach us about the ancient way of Jesus? What if we were equally candid about our bad doctrine and bad decisions? What if we were willing to be wrong in order to be faithful? The next time a Christian leader is tempted to defend his position or his behavior, he might imagine a better way. The way of Aaron Sorkin and the way of the gospel. The right way that starts with being wrong.