Believing that we know the truth can lead us into temptation.
as told by Deborah
“Jesus said, “If you love me, you will hold my teachings in your hearts. And I will ask the Father, who will give you another Advocate to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of Truth, invisible and inaccessible to the world, but which you will see and know, for it lives within you.
“I won’t leave you orphaned; I’ll be right back. In a little while the world won’t see me — but you will. Because I live, you also will live.
“That’s when you’ll realize that I am within my Father, and you are within me, and I am within you.
“Those who cherish my instructions love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.”
Jesus says that his followers are given “the Spirit of Truth” to guide us.
That’s pretty cool. Truth is the last word: the Truth. The end-all, be all: what really is; the opposite of false.
And so, in the spirit of truthfulness, we can go forth, convinced that we are right. And of course, when you are right — you cannot possibly be wrong. Right?
Unless, of course, you are mistaken, confused, misinformed, or misled.
That can happen, as all of us are well aware. Human beings are not perfect. We make mistakes and can get excited and emotional and angry and fearful and generally foul up. We can be wrong.
We can be not-right.
That can happen when we mistake the “Spirit of truth” for a guarantee of accuracy; when we become convinced that our faith and belief assures us of a lack of mistakenness. We can believe the Gospel and still be wrong about some things.
There’s a difference between truth and being right.
There’s even a difference between truth and righteousness. The Truth — Christ’s truth — can lead us to righteousness; it can guide us toward compassion, to a striving-after kindness, to acts of generosity and gentleness. But being “right” is a whole different kettle of fish.
Perceiving ourselves as right inspires hubris: an inflated sense of authority and command — and conceit. If I know what is “right” then there is no room for discussion or argument; my word is the last word. If I’m “right” then those who disagree …. are wrong.
And anyone who is wrong (that is, holding an opposing view) is either stupid, stubborn, dangerous, or evil. They need to be convinced or controlled — or eliminated.
Being convinced that you are “right” can lead to attacks against others of the sort tragically enacted in Manchester, England last night. Innocent people, many of them children, died because, in the mind of one man, he was right — and they (their government, their religion?) were wrong.
Being convinced of one’s “righteousness” can lead to horrible, unconscionable acts. It can be used as a license to judge, condemn — and even to destroy.
The Truth that Christ spoke of is very different. Remember that what He sent wasn’t a concrete object, it wasn’t a concept written in parchment or carved in stone — the Truth was a spirit; the Holy Spirit.
Christ’s Truth is a living thing; it lives and breathes in us. It is Christ’s teachings incarnated in our lives: it is us living as our Lord lived. It is the Spirit of Holiness embodied in our world — in our bodies. It is love at work. That is Christ’s truth — that living, breathing, inspiring Spirit: embodied love at work in our world.
This love isn’t soppy romantic twaddle; it is fiercely compassionate, determinedly kind, deeply committed to Wisdom — an intelligence that goes beyond “school smarts” and instead looks to understand: to learn with our hearts as much as with our heads.
That Spirit of Truth is needed in our world more than ever. We need to look to it, to listen to it, and to let it guide us in the Way we should go.
These are difficult times. It is not easy to follow the Lord when all around us voices are being raised, inciting us to react: to pursue “vengeance,” to prove our “right” with might, to condemn, control, and to destroy.
Our hearts are filled with sorrow, our minds overcome by the magnitude of hurt and destructive violence, and we grieve. We grieve for the injured, for those who mourn, and for all those whose passion to be right blinds them to the Truth.
Gracious, eternal God, fill our hearts with that Spirit that will guide us to holy living and lead our world to peace. Amen.
Virtual hugs and real-time blessings,
Pray to receive the Spirit of Truth. And to live accordingly.