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Facts, Meanings, and Values

You’ve heard the old story where three blind men come across an elephant. The first man happens upon its leg, and concludes it’s a tree. The second man bumps into its trunk, and concludes it’s a snake. The last blind man feels its tail, and concludes it’s a broom. Nowhere have I seen this scenario play out more vividly than in the Christian Church. I remember sitting in an adult Sunday School class in the late 1990s. Someone shared something that reminded me of something a Hindu friend of mine had once said.

I shared that I had heard God described as the splendor of the splendid and the goodness of the good. Everyone in the room liked that description until I revealed that it was a quote from an ancient Hindu text. As if by some sort of conditioned reflex, I was told that they were talking about a different god. I have always been puzzled by this mode of thinking. Why can’t one tradition’s partial understanding serve to inform a more comprehensive one?

It’s as if some marketeer somewhere has decided that, to differentiate the faith in a competitive marketplace of ideas, the church can’t build a unique value proposition unless it somehow disses everyone else’s beliefs. Nowhere in the recorded history concerning the exemplary life and teachings of Jesus is there evidence of him attacking the underpinnings of someone else’s faith. There are, however, many instances where Jesus listened and worked to build on even the faintest flicker of faith within those individuals who came close to him.

It is not within the scope of our mission to try and play Theo-surgeon and attempt to excise every erroneous idea within someone else’s evolving understanding of what God has in store for them. The Promised Helper Jesus sent to help all of us is the Spirit of Truth. Just as this Helper will faithfully and competently lead us into all Truth, the Spirit can be trusted to drive out all serious error. 

God has given us an endowment of mind and spirit that give rise to an ascendant philosophy. It’s entirely up to us if we are to become responsive to Divine leading as we move forward in thought, word, and deed. The Truth consists of more than facts. It prompts us to consider meanings. It leads us to recognize and embrace supreme values. It augments our view of total reality just as two eyes enhance our depth perception. The materialist tends to see the world and the universe as relatively flat.

Our Spirit complement superimposes the enhanced perceptions, that are exclusive to the spiritually endowed mind, upon the circumscribed world view of those who would otherwise limit their understanding to that of the physical life. In Exodus we were told that God has filled the believer “with his Spirit, gifted him with wisdom, understanding, and knowledge, . . .” Later on, in a letter to the Philippians, Paul wrote: And know that the peace of God (a peace that is beyond any and all of our human understanding) will stand watch over your hearts and minds in Jesus, the Anointed One. There will come a day when he enables us to bring these cosmic views into true focus for, as Jesus said: “The Kingdom of Heaven is within you.” 

On that day we will understand the meaning and value of Enlightened Honesty as characterized by Clear Thinking, Warmhearted Luminosity, and Spiritual Transformation. – The meaning and value of Courageous Loyalty as characterized by Cohesive Integrity, Mutual Confidence, and Responsive Friendship. – The meaning and value of Enduring Peace as characterized by Common Concerns, Sensitive Communications, and Impartial Judgment. – The meaning and value of Enthusiastic Appreciation as characterized by Augmented Values, Infectious Joy, and Harmonious Progress.

We will know the meaning and value of Unfailing Goodness as characterized by Thoughtful Preparedness, Resourceful Adaptability, and Industrious Tenacity. – The meaning and value of Unselfish Devotion as characterized by Divine Guidance, Patient Foresight, and Supportive Encouragement. – The meaning and value of Merciful Ministry as characterized by Sympathetic Understanding, Enveloping Tenderness, and Inspiring Beauty. – The meaning and value of Loving Service as characterized by Shared Vision, Unified Motivation, and Constructive Engagement.

We will begin to appreciate the meaning and value of Undying Hope as characterized by Focused Purpose, Healthy Dedication, and Insightful Leadership. – The meaning and value of Confiding Trust as characterized by Moral Affinity, Informed Fidelity, and Principled Adaptability. – The meaning and value of Sincere Fairness as characterized by Seasoned Acuity, Centered Clarity, and Ethical Inquiry. – The meaning and value of Forgiving Tolerance as characterized by Balanced Perspective. Resourceful Accuracy, and Resilient Structuring

We will undoubtedly learn to embrace God’s Truth, Beauty, and Goodness because, as Jesus said, the fruits of the spirit are love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance.” The authenticity of our relationship with Jesus and the Father is revealed in the nature and to the extent these fruits of the spirit are manifest in our life experiences.

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