And me? I realized I would like to SEEM loving, more than I actually want to BE a lover of people. I want to SEEM wise and trustworthy, more than I want to put in the sacrificial time to BE those things. I want my family and team and neighbors and coworkers and supporters to FEEL cared for, whether or not I actually AM caring for them. I don't want to be publicly caught out in my selfishness, more than I want to root it out of my heart. It is the kind of subtle distinction that needs the freeing light of truth. Jesus stoops, writing in the dust, aware of the implications, not forcing His opinion, but offering that freedom.
Saturday, September 26, 2009
The Truth Will Make You Free
This phrase popped up in our kid cartoon movie last night (Meet the Robinsons . . ). But Jesus actually said it first, in John 8 . . . the topic of our weekly team Bible study this week. Truth is not a very American PC topic these days I suspect, and it is not very central to African thinking either. Expediency would be more to the point. So it was interesting to study this chapter on Thursday with our team, and again on Friday with the Health Center staff. (Yes, I did it twice, because I can only lead and prepare so many meetings a week . . .and God was still working on my own heart from this story anyway). The pithy statement about truth is preceded by the dramatic encounter between Jesus, a ready-to-stone mob, wily political agitators, and a woman who had been caught in adultery. To a Ugandan audience, the communal response to adultery, the idea of involvement in marital conflict and negotiation of penalty, the way a new leader challenges authority, and the scene of it all playing out in the public market space, makes perfect sense. One nurse actually admitted to helping stone a suspected rebel once. So the story was very relevant, very alive, the discussion very participatory. No one particularly sympathized with the victimhood of the woman, and one man in particular who hails from a law-oriented world religion was quite offended by Jesus' refusal to condemn her. But before I could say anything to that, another participant from the same religious background stated: "But Jesus came to SAVE sinners, didn't he, so it makes sense that he would forgive." Wow. We talked more about the way Jesus transitioned the law from being an external set of rules that protected community cohesion to an internal code of character and conduct, a matter of the heart. And this is the scalpel edge of truth: only in a confrontation with the judgement and love of a person such as Jesus can the kind of heart change occur where a woman does not just become more careful in her adultery, to not get caught, but actually chooses faithfulness.