When some one uses the phrase, “It’s like herding a bunch of cats,” there is little doubt that what they are talking about is chaos. Orthodoxy is somewhat like that – herding cats, that is.
Orthodoxy is, by its very nature, orthodox. That is, conforming to a set of beliefs, uniform standards or established conventions. When some one is described as “unorthodox” it simply means they are not conforming to what is expected.
Orthodoxy is often translated beyond beliefs into the area of behavior. For the fact of the matter, they are combined to a large degree – one’s belief determines their behavior. Also, one’s behavior is indicative of their belief system. The problem is with the former set-up, belief determining behavior.
In Luke’s gospel, John the Baptist was having a struggle with orthodoxy. The “lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world,” was not conforming to expectations. Consequently, he sends some of his disciples (John himself was in prison) to ask Jesus, “Are you really the one we have been expecting, because you sure don’t act like it (loose paraphrase on my part).” Not only was Jesus not conforming to the religious leader’s expectations of the Messiah, he was throwing John a curve ball that he was not ready to catch.
Orthodoxy often breeds complacency or a false confidence. Then, when some one breaches the walls of our traditional belief system, we wonder “How can this be? This is not at all what I was expecting.”
Jesus tells the disciples of John to go back and tell him, “I am doing exactly what the prophet Isaiah proclaimed the messiah would do. It may not be what you or these other people expected, but it is what the gospel of the Kingdom is all about (again a loose paraphrase).”
For me at least, it seems the lesson from all of this is relatively clear. The Word of God should dictate my belief system – orthodoxy. My belief system should not dictate how I interpret the Word of God. I find that I must constantly remind myself of this as I read scripture. I must allow it to speak to me based on its very nature as the Word of God. Then it is important that I adjust my belief system to what it says. Not what I want it to say or think it should say.
A hard lesson, but one I am learning.