When a minister reads out of the Bible, I am sure that at least nine times out of ten the people who happen to be listening at all hear not what is really being said but only what they expect to hear read. And I think that what most people expect to hear read from the Bible is an edifying story, an uplifting thought, a moral lesson—something elevating, obvious, and boring. So that is exactly what very often they do hear. Only that is too bad because if you really listen…there is no telling what you might hear.
February 25, 2010
Frederick Buechner says:
February 11, 2010
My New Year Resolution was to read at least one chapter of the Bible every day of the year. My focus is on consistency. I plan to read more than one chapter, but know that I have too often let myself off the hook because I read more the day before.
I have been focusing on Paul's epistles because I am teaching a class on them; I have been reading them over and over. While reading 1 Corinthians, this verse stood out, "Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth" (13:6).
The Love Chapter.
You have heard it a million times. It makes regular appearances at every wedding I attend. Plaques and wall hangings are decorated with its words. It is so familiar, that it is possible to miss the true beauty (and meaning) of its words.
These words, while applying to our relationships with our spouse, mean so much more than just a marital method of dealing with each other. Paul places this chapter in the midst of his instruction on the spiritual gifts and how to relate our gifts toward others.
While there are some wonderful and astounding spiritual gifts given to the Church. The greatest gift God has given is love, and he expects us to love others.
This beautiful chapter on love is an instruction on how we are to love everyone; not just for how we love those we love.
This is how we love our husband and wife.
This is how we love our children.
This how we love our church family.
This is how we love our neighbors.
This is how we love that guy who cut us off in traffic.
This is how we love those with whom we disagree.
This is how we love those who persecute and mistreat us.
This is how we love others.
So back to the verse, "Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth."
I don't know about you, but I can't remember the last time I rejoiced or delighted in evil. I try to avoid it. This verse, though, says that every time I don't rejoice in the truth I am delighting in evil, and being a truth-rejoicer can be a difficult and painful task.
One of my seminary professors, Dr. Truesdale, had a unique teaching style. It was born out of his time in seminary. His teaching style? He was radically dedicated to the truth. I know that sounds strange for someone to say about someone who is teaching God's word, but let me explain.
During his time in seminary and while attending the churches, Dr. Truesdale would listen as his teacher or preacher talked about those people (the atheists, the sinners, etc) and describe how their arguments don't stand up (so far so good). But then they would go on to describe those beliefs in weak, anemic way that did not do justice (were untruthful) to the people who actually held them.
Dr. Truesdale's commitment was to teach beliefs, especially the ones he disagreed with, in such a way that a person who held them would be able to say they had been fairly represented. He held regular conversations with people of different faiths and belief structures to insure that he was representing them. He would bring those people in to class so they could describe their beliefs.
He was radically committed to the truth.
Me...I like the truth when it doesn't hurt, but I want to learn to rejoice in the truth. This means that I rejoice in the truth even when it comes from the lips of someone with whom I radically disagree. This means that I don't twist the truth to make myself, my cause, my beliefs, or anything look better. This means that I don't accept half-truths and spin from my political, religious, or educational leaders. It also means that I learn to rejoice in the truth when they do speak it.
I don't have to be rude with a false sense of brutal honesty that hurts others, but I have to rejoice in the truth wherever it is found...even when it hurts ME.