Winsome Words 7/29/12

It is neither possible for man to know the truth fully nor to avoid the error of pretending that he does.
–Reinhold Niebuhr


Through Christ we know REAL TRUTH, or as Francis Schaeffer was fond of putting it, true truth. Jesus said “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.” If truth was ephemeral and could not be known, Jesus was ephemeral and could not be known.

But he is not “all known.” We know him, indeed, but not all of him. One thing in particular we do not know is how he would do the truth in the our situation. He often, to use a phrase from Emily Dickinson, he told truth “on the slant.” He used metaphor, story, simile to slide past the sleeping lions at the gate of our consciousness. Before we know it, Jesus is through the gate and on the inside of us, on the other side, as it were. The truth got into us and we have not been able to scratch deep enough to erase it.

But, like the disciples, we find that Jesus goes ahead of us and we must hurry to catch up with him. As the Bible often reports, the disciples were dismayed by him. Not disappointed, but caught off guard. “He said what?” This is what we are talking about.

To pretend that I really know, have it down, an expert, with Greek and Hebrew expertise and graduate school credentials, seems as almost as necessary to the human condition as daily good. “To seem to be” is our soul’s food. It is junk good but we get quick energy by means of it. We think we have won an argument when in fact the other person has just stopped talking to us. We think we have made an impression when in fact we have, just not the one we thought we made. We think we have something wrapped up, when in fact it is like old saran wrap that keeps nothing sealed.

It is just this attitude that does even more damage than what we say. Posers are epidemic in the faith. We pose as gods, little gods who speak for the great god. People get the impression they have to get through us to get an audience with the Almighty. Here is the great swamp. Ignorance may be forgiven. But the final sinking is the pretend that all is clear.

If you are a Christian do not shrink back from the declaratory and exclamatory sentence. But their power is just in the humility of the one who so speaks. And we are quick to keep people from sacrificing to us as Paul and Silas did when they were treated as gods on their missionary journey. “We are men just as you are.” Any other perch is not a throne but a plank that we walk and soon are to drop off.

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