His life as your life


I was listening to a professor being described by a student who had been blessed by his life. The student described him as a very able and humbly modest man.

This is the effect of grace in the life of anyone who is attractive as a person. The ability to be grace and truth is the essence of being human.

Such people listen much and learn a lot. Their world view is anchored in truth yet flexible enough to cope with new revelation and new understanding.

There are people who are not like this and we must learn to cope with them – chiefly by not taking what they say seriously. Their talk is boorish and they are ignorant and bigoted. A person in our Federal Parliament comes to mind, but you may encounter them in your extended family or in your church. They talk much in order to persuade themselves and prevent themselves hearing truths that would upset their apple-cart. These people stopped learning when they stopped listening which was a long time ago.

I once taught social studies to a small group of students who were not intellectually brilliant. But they were humble enough to listen and we made good progress in understanding how society works that year in class.

It may be that we are not boorish hogs of the conversation attempting to control the thoughts of others. It could be that we are just addicted to our own ideas. At a conference, someone told us once that those with poor social perception will very likely be poor in spiritual perception. There are amiable folks who have the spiritual discernment of a water melon, but it’s not because they are dullards. It’s because they have given their ideas of Christ priority over Christs’ ideas of Christ and insulated themselves inside their own beliefs. These are beliefs of the kind Paul described as ‘another gospel’.

I heard a pastor heatedly remark when under challenge, that all denominations have their own legalistic blind spots. Maybe, but if our blind spot renders us adherents of ‘another gospel’ we are of all men and women most miserable, whether we know it or not. It’s a serious thing to think of oneself as a son when the reality is that one is a cripple and slave because we have walled out the truth of God with our endless rationalisation and ingenious fictions.