EQUIP: Week 5 – Preserving the Truth that Frees
“For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.” (1 Cor. 13:12-13)
Week 5: Day 1 – Checking Our Motivations
The top three hardest things to say are, ‘I was wrong. I need help. Worcestershire sauce.’ – Author Unknown
Today is day one of the fifth week of our equipping experience, and up to this point, we’ve explored three of the six God-given purposes: Proclaiming the Gospel, Cultivating Christian Community, and Maintaining A Life of Worship. Each are essential and inseparable priorities for us as the church at work. This week we are exploring our fourth essential priority, to Preserve the Truth.
Truth. What is our relationship with truth? Let’s hold onto this question as we begin our daily rhythm.
As we seek to uphold the truth, we follow our daily PRAY(er) rhythm by, ‘P’: PAUSING to be still. ‘R’: REFLECTING on Scripture or learnings. ‘A’: ASKING God to help us and others on the journey and ‘Y’: YIELDING to God’s transformative work in our life, no matter the cost. [i]
P. R. A. Y.
As I enter prayer now, I pause to be still; to breathe slowly; to recenter my scattered senses upon the presence of God.
God, long ago you spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, but these days you reveal yourself to us through your Word. As I approach your Word, I ask you would fill my heart with your peace, open my mind to your truth, and renew in me a humility before you again, today.
Read & Reflect
Imagine it was revealed to us that what we once firmly held to be true might actually be in error (hypothetically of course because let’s be honest, we’re never wrong). But if we were, might our response sound something like, “I was wrrr…wrrr…incorrect”? Sure, others might get a laugh, and yet it highlights the human struggle to admit the simple phrase, “I was wrong.”
What’s our relationship with this phrase? Is it something that comes naturally to us? Or when we say it (if we ever do) do we have to say it through our teeth? Regardless, we could all use a little practice in humility. Let’s start by saying this phrase together, “I believe my theology, position and thoughts to be true. But I could be wrong.”
As we approach the topic of truth this week, it is important for us to check ourselves (before we wreck ourselves). We need to check our motivations. We need to practice a simple yet illusive phrase, “I could be wrong.” If we are willing to realize that we could be wrong about our understanding of Scripture, then we can approach God’s Word and one another with humility, curiosity and respect.
The apostle Paul writes:
“If I speak in the language of mortals and of angels (who presumably get more things right than we do), but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal…If I understand all mysteries and all knowledge…but do not have love, I am nothing…for knowledge, it will come to an end. For we know only in part…for now we see in a mirror, dimly…Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.” (1 Cor. 13:1-13)
Paul, a beloved apostle (often quoted as though he knew everything), told us straight up that he didn’t have access to the fullness of truth. He wrote, “For now we see in a mirror, dimly…Now I know only in part; then I will know fully…” What a beautiful display of humility by the Apostle Paul!
Humility is an act of love. Without love…the truth we possess just becomes a bunch of noise. (1 Cor. 13:1-3) Jared Byas, in his book Love Matters More reminds us that in Scripture, “There’s enough truth to guide us but not enough to think there are no surprises left.” [ii] In order for us as the worshiping community to preserve the truth, we must approach God and one another with humility.
Journal and/or self-reflect:
- What stirs in me when I say, “I could be wrong”?
- How does love and humility relate with each other?
- What excites me about the possibility of being surprised again by new knowledge and insight with regard to my relationship with God and others?
Let’s read Paul’s words again from a fresh perspective,
“We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!
But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.” (1 Cor. 13:12-13)
Reflect again on Paul’s comment, “We don’t yet see things clearly…We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us…” (1 Cor. 13:12)
- What impression do I have of Paul when he confesses that he doesn’t have access to the fullness of all truth?
- What’s my experience with trusting, hoping, and loving something I don’t fully understand?
The Apostle Paul is not saying, “we cannot know absolute truth,” but rather “we cannot know truth absolutely.” Basically, in our humanity we are unable to fully grasp absolute truth or reality as it really is. Rather, as followers of Jesus we need to have humility and be able to say “I could be wrong”. If we have the kind of humility needed to acknowledge our inability to grasp absolute truth absolutely, then we may be able to lovingly and patiently enter into conversations with others about the truth God reveals to us.
Today, we are simply being reminded that only God knows absolute truth absolutely. Therefore, as we follow Jesus and learn from God’s Word we get to enter into loving conversations humbly seeking to understand one another, to learn from one another, to allow the other to reveal different aspects of biblical truth.
The work of the Church is not about fighting to be right. When it comes to upholding biblical truth, we are in the wrong to think that simply possessing facts about God means we preserve the truth. Truth without love, truth without action, truth disembodied, and truth that holds us captive is really no truth at all (Luke 4:18; Galatians 5:1).
As I return to the invitation to follow Jesus every day, and everywhere, with everyone, All Knowing God, I am humbled to be in your presence today. I recognize I am not capable of fully knowing or understanding your truth. And yet, I am grateful that you have successfully revealed who you are and what you desire. You, alone are right and righteous. Jesus, you alone are my way and my truth. You’ve surrounded me with sisters and brothers whom you’ve also revealed yourself, whom I can learn from, and who worship you in spirit and in truth.
I ask that you soften my heart, open up my eyes, and evoke in and through me a respect for you and your truth. I yield to you and invite you to once again teach me. As one who is humbled by your presence, your wisdom, and your truth, I yield my life to you once again. Today marks a new day in a lifelong journey of following you as a humble participant in a learning community. Amen.
Over this next week, we will memorize 1 Corinthians 13:12-13 (NRSV) together. This passage will help frame the ongoing conversation throughout the week. To begin our practice, let’s write the following verses verbatim in a journal, notecard, on a post-it note, or make a note in your smart device:
“For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.”
Spiritual Practice | Memorization
As we continue to develop spiritual practices or habits that are essential to our life of following Jesus, we pause this week to acknowledge that we’ve already been developing a habit of ‘memorization.’
When we memorize Scripture, the truth of God is in us. Pastor Care Crawford says it this way, “Even though it is hard for me to memorize Scripture, when I do, I hold that deep within and it is amazing how a circumstance comes up and a verse I have memorized comes to my mind and is an encouragement or brings a special reminder of the Lord’s presence.” [iii]
- What have been the benefits for you as you’ve engaged this spiritual practice these past five weeks?
2021 Rev. Mike Morgan