Reverend Dr. William H. Curtis

Faith and Ambiguity

  They went and found a colt outside in the street, tied at a doorway. As they untied it, some people standing there asked, “What are you doing, untying that colt?”

Mark 11:4-5 (NIV)


Famed psychiatrist Sigmund Freud said that neurosis is the inability to tolerate ambiguity. I suspect Freud is hinting at the stress and panic and pressure and pain that we often invite into our lives. It is the result of living closed to additional meanings in life's circumstances—closed to additional lenses with which to view our human encounters.

Often, when we live closed to our circumstances and encounters, that’s when the stress and the discomfort arise in our lives. We must learn to live with ambiguity. I think we might expand that idea to say that, from Jesus’ perspective, ambiguity is necessary to cultivate a growing faith.

To love Him and to walk “open” is the way faith matures. Faith obeys on the strength of trust rather than proof. Faith follows because of trust rather than facts. Faith only needs to know that the Lord is asking or that the Lord is allowing or that the Lord is present, and then ambiguity is to be nurtured and not feared.

In Mark 11, Jesus calls two of His disciples and tells them to go into a village, and upon entering it they would see a colt. He tells them to untie the colt, and should anyone ask them why they are taking it, their response is to essentially be, “The Master has need of it.”

For these two disciples, the mission is clear, but the way it might unfold leaves a lot of room for ambiguity. How exactly would this scenario play out? What will be the reaction of those who confront the disciples about the colt?

Yet the disciples obeyed, regardless of the ambiguities.

There's a lesson there for you and me. Despite our ambiguities, despite the inexactness that we are living with, despite the vagueness of it all, let’s just obey. Let's trust Jesus’ authority.

What the disciples believed about Jesus’ identity and the faith they'd put in His eternality was sufficient enough to answer all of their plaguing ambiguities. The question that I think is being asked of us in this story is this: Is Jesus a big enough answer for the ambiguities that surround your decisions, your movements, and your interactions?