“There was a kid with a head full of doubt, so I’ll scream ‘til I die or the last of these bad thoughts are finally out.”
These lyrics are from one of my favorite Avett Brothers songs, Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise. It’s a song about wanting to believe and struggling to have faith even when what is supposed to be black and white turns into gray. It’s a song that I love because I so often get confused by the gray areas in life, by the people to the right of me and the left of me calling out dogmatically that their truth is the truth. I get confused because I’m not looking for anyone’s personal truth, or my own personal truth, but just the truth I can find in Christ.
It turns out that it’s crazy hard to hold on to the truth of Christ, because his truth is not the private property of those to the right of me or the left of me. His truth is not swayed by the popular opinions of politicians. His truth is not owned by any one church denomination or political party or preacher or philosophy. The truth is that Christ is both loving and holy, both a righteous judge and a forgiving father. His truth is simultaneously too simple and too complicated to be captured in one human ideology. And yet, everyone keeps speaking for Christ and justifying whatever they do with the claim that they do it in his name.
And with all these people claiming to have the truth, I get confused. I become that kid with the head full of doubt, and I begin asking along with Pilate, “What is truth?”
Pilate was confused because Jesus had just told him that his kingdom was not of this world. Jesus said that if he had been trying to establish an earthly kingdom, his followers would be fighting to deliver him from death and place him in power. But that was not why he had come to earth. He had not come to set up a Christian Kingdom. Rather, he said he came to bear witness to the truth. He came to show us the truth about who God is, and who God isn’t. And he said that people who have the truth will listen to his voice.
And so, that is what I’m trying to do. I’m trying to drown out all the voices that pander for my attention, who present their view as if it is the truth, who use Christ as a tool for their own ends, and I’m trying to just listen to the voice of Christ. This all may sound like a political statement, but it really isn’t. It just reflects my desire to know Christ and live for him in every area of my life, and if any liberal theologian or conservative politician, or vice versa, are going to use Christ to advance their own agenda rather than give themselves to advance Christ’s, then I don’t want to listen to them anymore.
If I’m going to walk in the truth of Christ, then I’m going to have to learn to balance the paradoxical nature of his truth. I must balance love and holiness and pray that I myself will somehow become loving and holy. And if, as the Avett Brothers say, I have to scream to drown out these other voices that drown out Christ and cause my head full of doubt, then scream is what I will do.