Some thoughts on truth and love

17 11 2012

I’ve been thinking this week about a phrase that Paul wrote in his letter to the followers of Jesus in Ephesus: “we will speak the truth in love”.

My thoughts were kick-started by listening to Shauna Niequist speaking about the ancient proverb, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” You can listen to her talk here.  She tells of a visit she made to a metal worker who showed her that you need two things to shape metal – heat and force. We can hammer metal with intense force, but if there’s no heat it’s just big noise and no movement. There must be heat before there can be shape.

Shauna then talks about the two things that are needed if we are to engage in the arena of personal growth – trust and truth. If there’s no trust, the words that are said, however truthful, will be just that – words, and probably hurtful ones at that; if there’s too much trust, the truthful words never get said.  I’ve been in both positions. Someone once said some very hurtful things to me and concluded with, “I’m just being honest.”  Yeah, right!  And wary of this trap, I’ve often failed to say things that I should have said because I didn’t want to upset the other person, even although leaving them where they were did them no favours. It’s critical to have the two in tandem if personal transformation is to take place.

So back to Ephesians.

Someone once said that the sense of  “we will speak the truth in love” in the original Greek (and who am I to argue!) is “truthing it in love”. I like that.  There’s the sense of continuation, not just a vomit of words, but a walking alongside another person, loving them, easing them into realisation of the truth and, as they say in the classier classics, “being there for them”. Isn’t that what you would want from a friend?

And to what end are we to engage in this often difficult path with others?  It’s so that we, and they, grow up – “God wants us to grow up, to know the whole truth and tell it in love—like Christ in everything. We take our lead from Christ, who is the source of everything we do. He keeps us in step with each other.”


Is that making sense to you guys?

14 03 2012

“Is that making sense to you guys?” is an expression I have heard so much in the last few days that I hear it in my sleep.  It follows an explanation from my ski instructor (infinitely patient and encouraging Paul) about what my little group of buddies are to do to improve our skiing. We all nod and say, “Yes Paul”. Then he says, “Let’s go play with that.”

I wonder if you can see the next part?  Sometimes it’s good, and the tip he has just given really does help something to click. Other times there’s carnage! But he, and we, persevere and have a lot of fun. He assures us that it is all about muscle memory and that we are becoming better skiers – get the feel; now replicate it.
Another infinitely patient and encouraging Paul, (the apostle this time) tells his little group of Ephesians buddies how to “get it” as far as living for Jesus is concerned. And the secret is seeing with the eyes of their hearts(check out Ephesians 1:18). I can hear him saying, “Is that making sense to you guys?”
Paul taps into a metaphor that runs through the Bible. The heart is where I gain understanding and make my response to God, where I “get the feel”. The Psalmist asks God to search his heart; we are asked to guard our hearts, to apply our hearts to understanding, to love God with all our hearts. Unless my heart is fully open to God I will not be able to experience the riches of faith.
And I need to practise so that I can replicate the feel. It’s not a one off understanding, but a constant playing with getting close to God, of expressing love for him, of serving other people?
 Is that making sense to you guys?

So much more

13 03 2012

I am experiencing grace by the bucket load. My skiing holiday is a gift from friends and not only have they brought me here, they have organised ski lessons for me and given me “so much more”…and I am having a ball. Long chair lifts give good time to reflect, and I have felt my heart lifted time and again as I’ve looked at the spectacular mountains and snow covered trees around me. It makes sing! I have done nothing to deserve any of this, although I have had to respond to the gift.

All this has been a powerful visual aid for me because I have also been reading Ephesians 2 where Paul writes about the grace of God. “But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!)”. The joy I’m experiencing has helped me to re-celebrate God’s love for me. And there is always “so much more”.

I want to keep experiencing that and follow Paul’s exhortation in Ephesians 3:19 – “Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.”

View from the top

8 03 2012

I couldn’t have had a better day to read Ephesians chapter 1 if I had planned it! Paul starts his letter to these young believers with a mega sentence. He seems to be so lost in wonder about God that he can’t stop himself. And I have caught something of that wonder.

Today I have been to the mountaintop. No photos to prove it, but the one from my last post captures the scene. There has been fresh snow, it’s clear, bright sunshine and from the top of the mountain the everyday life of the village looks completely different. Perhaps it’s a cliche, but when you see the bigger picture, the details of life that dominated, find their proper place. It’s not that the details are insignificant, for often struggles with ill health or challenging relationships, unemployment or misunderstandings, worries about the future or regrets about the past are important parts of everyday life. However, there’s a bigger perspective that I would do well to remember. Here’s how NT Wright puts it –

“Only by understanding and celebrating the larger story can we hope to understand everything that’s going on in our own smaller stories, and so observe God at work in and through our own lives.”

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