Truth or Partiality?
And some Pharisees came and said to Jesus, “Teacher, we know that you are sincere, and show deference to no one; for you do not regard people with partiality, but teach the way of God in accordance with truth.”
God has often spoken to me through women I dislike. It’s true. In my life, it’s happened a number of times that the ‘big’ things God has needed me to hear have been spoken through a voice of someone, usually female, who really irritates me for one reason or another. Most of irritation comes down to the fact I’m convinced of my own rightness in the face of their wrongness.
I’ve been struck recently by the impulse many have to “be right.” (And when I say ‘many,’ I really mean me.) Yet the truth is that the Gospel
says our job is to be right all the time. It’s not a fruit of the Spirit. It’s not in the Sermon on the Mount. It’s not in the ethical life Paul’s describes. We are not called to be right.
Yes, the truth matters, but the
is a different concept to
. ‘Rightness’ is something we claim to, we fight for, we assert over and above someone else. If someone says “I am right,” I am left wondering
who is wrong?
Rightness builds a castle that says only other people who agree with me may enter. Truth, by contrast, lays claim to
. We have no control over it and cannot claim we have it fully in our grasp for truth makes demands on
, not the other way around. Truth is God’s domain, not ours. Scripture shows us that our fellow human beings–even those with whom we fiercely disagree–all have something that will lead us into a deeper knowledge of the truth.
If we let go of the desire to be right (as we should!), we actually open ourselves to new possibilities of growing in the truth. Why? Because we’re opening up to the possibility that those with whom we disagree, or those who irritate us and wind us up, might just be the very ones God wants to use to teach us more of His truth. The question is: will we listen?
The Rev. Dr. Suse E. McBay
Associate for Adult Christian Education and Prayer Ministries