All of us have something of the false prophet in us, wherefore we ought to speak humbly… Sometimes pride will tempt us to speak as if we had already attained or were already made perfect; sometimes cowardice will tempt us to make concessions to the immense, blind and stubborn self-righteousness with which every culture, every nation and every individual wards off the word of God. — Reinhold Niebuhr, Beyond Tragedy
The narrow road that leads to the fullness of life in God threads its way between this pride and this cowardice. Often I slip off on one side or the other, but I know I need to hold fast to the truth as I have come to see it, even (or especially) when that truth is unpopular, or when it demands hard work and challenging realizations on my part. I know, also, that I need to remember that “we know in part and we prophesy in part” (1 Corinthians 13:9). When my neighbor disagrees with me she may have seen a different part of the truth. She may even have seen that I am hiding from the truth, either out of the wish to conform or out of the prideful wish to set myself apart.
One of the blessings of prepping is that it requires us not merely to proclaim our convictions, but to practice them daily. In the physical part of this practice some of our correct understandings and our errors become very clear; if we can bear to admit the errors we can learn quite a lot from them. The effort of practice is also apt to burn us out when we’re motivated by pride, and to work our true convictions into us deeply.
I am also better able to converse about difficult issues in a way that strengthens both sides’ understanding of the truth if I speak, not from my abstract convictions, but from my living experience. Instead of saying “Everyone should…because…” I can say “I do…because….and I have learned this from it….and in this way I am still not living up to what I’ve learned…” This invites the other person to speak from her own struggle to be faithful, rather than responding defensively.
And I try to remember that God already knows me fully, and someday my partial understanding will pass away and I will come to know as I am known.
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Today In Christian History
1453 – Constantinople, the capital of Eastern Christianity from A.D. 324, fell to the Turks. The city afterward became the capital of the Ottoman Empire and was renamed Istanbul. Its conquest marked the end of the Middle Ages.
1698 – Construction began on Old Swedes (Holy Trinity) Church in Wilmington, Delaware. The structure has been used continuously as a place of Christian worship ever since.
1774 – Pioneer American Methodist bishop Francis Asbury wrote in his journal: ‘Lord, keep me from all the superfluity of dress, and from preaching empty stuff to please the ear, instead of changing the heart.’
1837 – Birth of Charles W. Fry, the English musician who, along with his three sons, formed the first Salvation Army brass band. Fry also authored the hymn, “Lily of the Valley.”
1944 – German Lutheran theologian and Nazi martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote in a letter: ‘We are to find God in what we know, not in what we don’t know; God wants us to realize His presence, not in unsolved problems, but in those that are solved.’