Juan Ponce de León traveled across the Atlantic Ocean to Florida and sought out the Fountain of Youth. He had in his mind the legends that dated back to the time of Herodotus and, as a part of his royal charter to explore the New World, he looked for the fabled fountain.
But he was also skeptical. The search for the fountain was only one of the things he worked on while he explored Florida. He ended his life having never found the fountain, but as the first governor of Puerto Rico for the Spanish crown.
The search for the Fountain of Youth required the question of its existence, the hope that it was real, but also the skepticism that it might not be real. If Ponce de León had believed without question that the fountain was real and located in Florida, then he would have wasted his entire life searching for a myth. But because he allowed for himself to be wrong, he was able to move on and do other things.
The disciple life is no different. We have questions and beliefs that we hold, but we must admit that we might be wrong. At its root, the message of Jesus is that the religious people had been wrong. Those who followed Jesus were the ones that were willing to admit that they’d been wrong. The disciples heard the words of Jesus about the Sabbath and admitted that they’d been wrong; the religious establishment rejected Jesus because they couldn’t be wrong. The disciples admitted that their view of the Messiah was wrong in light of Jesus. They re-understood dietary laws, they found they were wrong about true worship, respecting women, loving people, forgiving, giving and dying.
All followers of Jesus must admit that they’ve been wrong. But that admission doesn’t stop at the moment of conversion. Jesus didn’t come to make converts, he didn’t call his followers to make converts and proselytize the world to a point of view. No, instead Jesus made disciples and called his followers to make disciples. Learners who admitted that they were wrong and continue to live with the possibility that they might be wrong.
Learning is impossible if you can’t be wrong.
Jesus commissioned his followers to make disciples, which translates into learners. So, in essence, Jesus called us to admit that we might be wrong, to give up clinging to the views we’ve been taught and to examine them anew, constantly.
When we’re willing to admit that we might be wrong, then others can admit that we might be right.