Tag Archives: truth

Light and Shadow: Grace and Truth About Our Lives

The Story of Christmas is Eternal Light shining in the darkness and Eternal Love that united God and humankind forever in Jesus of Nazareth (Gospel of John, chapter 1, verses 1-18). Johns beautiful hymn reveals a world of light and shadow, of divine grace and demonic deception, of receiving and rejecting love.

For this reflection, let us consider the shadow side of every good intention and the wisdom we need as the navigate the rapids of daily life.

Religious faith if often a positive force, offering meaning, fostering humility, and transforming character. As a Christian, I affirm that in Jesus of Nazareth, we have the final and sufficient disclosure of grace and truth to the world. But there can be a shadow side of intolerance, institutional oppression, and disrespectful interaction. For all Christians – and any adherents to a religious tradition – we must see all our neighbors as divine image-bearers and engage peaceably, work together harmoniously when possible, and love sincerely, even as we pray for their conversion.

Patriotism can help unite diverse groups under a banner of idealism. It’s shadow side in history includes nativism, racism, and failure to respect other cultures and systems. White supremacy is a subtle stronghold. The answer is to love the ideals while building bridges of friendship and trust.

Agitation for racial justice is noble and still needed as we try to realize the dream of our founders and MLK. The shadow side is hatred for historical oppressors that leads to a new racism, such as the Nation of Islam. The answer is grace and truth, love in action, as we confront systemic evils and build personal connections.

Liberty for and true toleration persons that identify as non-binary and part of the LGBTQ+ networks are important if we believe all people are created equal. The shadow side here is the radical agenda that calls for the destruction of the biological family and sexual anarchy. Toleration is living with our differences, not demanding that all agree with the choices and ideologies chosen by others.

Recognizing the unjust history of Western colonialism is vital for humility and forging a better future. The shadow side of legitimate critiques is a failure to see the oppressive histories of others’ cultures and bright facets of the global influences of a culture infused with some Judeo-Christian values. Critiquing the West’s imperialism toward Muslim lands during the 19th-early 20th century period is important. The shadow side is that we forget the 1000 years of Islamic expansion and destruction and the jihadism that refuses to grant equality to outsiders. Ignoring this and only feeling guilty will place more nations under the intolerant rule of Sharia.

Finally, we must affirm the goodness of liberty and the potential of each person to bring good to the world. The shadow side is excessive focus on self, with “my dreams” and “my gifts” being separated from good to others.

May we welcome the Light of Christ into every shadow in our souls and our systems, our hearts and our habits, our highest ideals and deepest dreams.

Truth to Power

“Speaking truth to power.”
A favorite phrase of all protesters.
Dear agitators of all ideologies:
Anger and clichés will not promote a flourishing society.
We need to give up two fantasies: a neo-1950s Americanism (the “good old days”) and socialist utopias (“Marx just hasn’t been applied properly”)

If we aspire for a just society, consider the following…
Truth: Our cities are overwhelmed with infrastructure, pension and welfare obligations and anti-enterprise policies.
Power: decades of political corruption must be overcome.

Truth: Racism still permeates much of our society.
Power: We must face both individual iniquity and institutional injustice. The former must be confronted within particular communities; the latter is the work of the privileged.

Truth: Religious women and men of all faiths that believe in heterosexual monogamy and celibacy for singles are not homophobes, bigots or haters, just trying to live their deepest convictions.
Power: all alternative advocates need to examine their own intolerance.

Truth: We can do better on healthcare, ensuring compassionate and effective services.
Power: Ethics/Standards need to be universal; administration must be local.

Truth: Environmental stewardship and scientific innovation ensure resources for improving economies.
Power: Neither UN symbols or massive deregulation lead us forward – only wise private-public cooperation based on honest data and hope, not propaganda and fear will offer a future.

Truth: Immigration reform is stymied by business and political powers that want cheap labor and subversion of citizenship boundaries.
Power: Hospitable and just policies within Constitutional boundaries can be forged with courage and love.

Dear millions of friends of conscience:
Let’s not only speak, but act. Protesting is easy. Actual change is hard.
One new friendship across the divides, one new act of compassion, one new business providing local jobs, one new church reaching out…let’s begin.

Healing Our Deep Divisions

Our deep divisions come from an impoverished anthropology.

We must reaffirm that all persons we encounter are made in God’s image with vocations of worship and work, play and rest, mutual self-donation and personal flourishing.

Our new anthropology must embrace created dignity, sin-infected depravity, gracious new creation in Christ and the restoration of all creation, as we enjoy God’s eternal reign.

Class and culture, gender and race are transformed with this new vision.

Transforming our society begins with love and truth.

Love: I desire and act for the good of others.

Truth: I assume responsibility for my decisions while recognizing larger influences I may not always control.

As we pray and work for justice, Pastor Chris Brooks’ words resound:
”We must confront individual iniquity and institutional injustice.”
”Poverty is not permanent.”

Poverty, racism, sexism, classism: all can be overcome with unselfish actions rooted in love and truth.

A free society is a virtuous society.

A virtuous society is built on timeless truth.

And it all begins and ends with self-donating love.

And that love is Triune.