the way AND the truth AND the life
Jackson and I are both hopelessly color blind. We see colors, but we miss much of the nuance of shade and hue. We see the primary colors of yellow, red, blue fine. I struggle with the greens and browns. Jackson struggles with blues and greens. We do better when Karen helps us pick out our shirts and ties. Fun fact: one in twelve men ‘suffer’ from color blindness, one in two hundred women ‘suffer’ from color blindness.
I raise color blindness as a sidelong glance at the assigned Gospel lesson for this week. Most people see the bothandness of color. Most people detect the subtlety between aqua, turquoise and teal. Most people appreciate the difference between the three shades of light blue. The tones express so much—if you can see them.
While we appreciate polychromatic view of the world, we are also prone to black and white, either/or thinking. This kind of thinking provides comfort and stability. This thinking allows us to perceive our rightness and confirm another’s wrongness, especially in anxious times.
I called a friend this week and was instantly placed on speaker phone to settle a ‘disagreement’ between spouses. One spouse believed meat bought last week with a sell by date of May 1 was perfectly edible. The other disagreed. I channeled my inner Edwin Friedman and recognized this as a triangle. I encouraged them to inspect the meat more closely. To the joy of one, the meat ‘did not seem’ rotten. The other still refused to eat it. The stalemate was broken.
This situation offers just a small and lighthearted glimpse at either/or thinking. Relationships have suffered from this myopia. Business. Church. Politic. The challenge of either/or thinking creates conflict, draws lines, builds walls.
Even our hearing of Jesus’ words, “I am the way and the truth and the life” affords us the opportunity to create conflict, draw lines, build walls that do not suit us or our faith well. I believe that our hearing has distorted the radically inclusionary nature of Jesus. We decide which is the right way. We decide which truth to uphold and which to condemn. We decide whose lives are worthy and which are not.
I hear the AND differently today. Jesus is not either the way or the truth or the life. We cannot isolate the strands of discipleship, proclamation, and witness. Jesus is both/and the way both/and the truth both/and the life. Put another, more blasphemous way (and forgive the grammar), Jesus is the ways and the truths and the lives. The plurality, like the shades between aqua, turquoise, and teal, blends and betters each one and those who can tell the difference.
I try not to cherry pick Scripture too often. Forgive me breaking my own rule: “And though one might prevail against another, two will withstand one. A threefold cord is not quickly broken” (Ecclesiastes 4.12). A threefold cord is not quickly broken!! Like the threefold cord of creation, salvation and consecration, like the threefold cord of faith, love, and hope, God calls us to participate in God’s ways AND God’s truths AND God’s lives.
Let this trinity blend and better us all.
I love you.
[I need you.]
I hope for you.
Please be safe.