Pastor Ethan's Blog
Wednesday, February 14 2018
Hello Trinity! Happy Valentine’s Day!
This Sunday is week SIX of our ‘Reflecting Jesus’ series, in which we have walked through the ‘Love passage’ of 1 Corinthians 13, one adjective at a time. By this point, some of you may be thinking, “Six weeks?! How can you spend six weeks in a passage that is only 4 verses long, and still not be done!” “I mean, sure, it’s a great passage, and we’ve all heard is a millions times… ‘Love is patient, love is kind, blah blah blah…’ I think we get it!”
Have you thought that, just maybe? Do we really need to take what will end up being TEN weeks talking about these different descriptive words that follow the almost cliché phrase, “Love is…?” It has struck me in my own study for this series (and in conversations with some of you) that what on its face may be one of the most rote passages in the New Testament is actually one of the most intensely practical and profoundly challenging statements in Scripture for how we actually live. That is, IF we stop and take the time to actually consider the bombshells Paul drops here, one descriptive phrase at a time.
I make this point because in this week’s phrase, Paul (God writing through Paul) takes his description of Love to a whole new level.
Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth.
I’m going to skip the ‘delight in evil’ part for now, and cut straight to the statement that will keep you up tonight if you really take it seriously. Love rejoices with the truth. Really? In our society today, we seem to be terrified of the truth. I once saw a cartoon where there were two booths (think Lucy’s counseling booth from ‘Peanuts’), with one labeled ‘difficult truths’, and the other ‘comforting lies’. Care to guess which booth had a long line of people? Any entry level human psychology course will tell you about the incredible delusional tools of our own consciousness to protect us from the truth. My favorite of these is called the fundamental attribution error, by which we convince ourselves that what is inexcusable and immoral for another person is justified for ourselves. We all do it. If you look at our culture (and ourselves) with any level of scrutiny, it seems that truth is something to hide from, not rejoice in seeing. You don’t have to look too far to find supposedly credible voices telling us that deception (at least subtly) is actually an expression of love, as who would want to always be told the truth about their actions, appearance, and perspective? NOW, as good Christians, we may tell ourselves that truth is always best, but be honest! If there were such a thing as a ‘Truth Flashlight”, I guarantee that we would want to be the one holding it! It’s just a human reality (including Christians) that there are few people who don’t utilize some scale of deception to protect themselves, protect others (at least we tell ourselves this), avoid conflict, or just smooth over things that would be hard to deal with. I recently heard a commentator who said ‘deception is the lubricant that makes the gears of society run smoothly’. Or, as ‘The Fonz’ said in a classic 1974 episode of ‘Happy Days’, “Bull makes the world go round”.
In contrast stands the audacious claim from the heart of God, that Love rejoices with the truth! In Colossians 3, when Paul proclaims that In Christ we have taken off our old self, and put on the New Self which increasingly reveals the image of our creator, what characteristic does Paul choose to describe how the New Self is so different? We don’t lie to each other.
I hope you are able to be with us Sunday as we push deeply into this profound, practical, and ultimately freeing truth. Until then, here’s the challenge. Starting with the rest of today, and then the rest of the week, sincerely ask the Holy Spirit to show you the ways you might be using deception as a means of getting through the day. Then ask, “why do I do this?” “What is going on in my heart and my mind that leads me to lie?” What would happen if you told the truth? What is our motivation for telling the truth? What about when we sincerely believe that ‘the truth’ would hurt someone? Are somethings better left unsaid? What is the balance between ‘all truth all the time’ and good judgment? If this is even valid, how do we make those judgment calls? What is the consequence when we do this? (Convince ourselves it’s ok to lie) Is this just rationalization? Can being a ‘truth teller’ veer into legalism? How does LOVE play into all of this? What does it really mean, in our actual daily lives, to rejoice with the Truth?
If we are honest, it turns out that living in truth might be a little more complicated that it first seems. Or is it?
Trinity, I love you all… and that is the truth!
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth
1 Corinthians 13:6
If you always tell the truth, you don’t have to remember what you said