2 John 4
I rejoiced greatly to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as we were commanded by the Father.
A Word of Hope
It is always risky to walk in on the middle of a heated conversation and try to make sense of only the fractured pieces overheard. Most of the time, it is probably best to turn away from such a circumstance and let the dialogue come to a natural end. But then, there are those times when you hear a single snippet and it draws you right in and you want to hear the whole story. Such was the case with a recent conversation between two of my students.
I asked and they recounted the part of their discussion that I did not hear. It began with one of them showing a video of an African preacher presumably healing a lame man. This student was firm in the belief that he was witnessing a true miracle. The second student said to him, “That is not real. It is staged.” Rather than debate the authenticity of the video, without missing a beat the first student said to the second, “You don’t have faith. You don’t believe in God?!” The second student seemed taken aback that this was the conclusion drawn from her comment. From this point on, I watched and listened as the two tried to navigate through their apparent theological impasse. Let’s just say that neither was able to convince the other to see things from a different perspective. I refrained from saying anything.
Later in the day, as I reflected on what I had witnessed, I found myself in deep thought about the essence of faith and truth, questioning my understanding of both. I realized that the line of demarcation between faith and truth is not always clear…and that might actually be a good thing. I wondered whether it was “better” to have the faith that my first student had, one that believes, without question, that God can and will do anything that we ask; or, is it better to have a faith that is tempered by truth, one that rests in personal experiences, relationships, and prayer? For a brief moment, I seriously doubted the integrity of my own faith life.
After wallowing in the discomfort of that quandary for a while, I was reminded that we all come to God via different routes. Though the “healing” video that my student shared was almost certainly not based in any truth, it did draw that individual toward God and caused him to contemplate his life of faith. Perhaps that is all God intended in that moment.
The people that we meet along our faith journey help us to grow so that we can walk more fully in the truth of Christ. I trust that that happened in the midst of the experience in my classroom. The encounter that day may have been just one step on each of our paths and it likely will not be fully understood until “unpacked” in a later and larger context.
This three minute exchange between my students changed me. My faith tells me that it also changed them, perhaps gently nudging them in a direction of growth.
Loving God, as I continue to learn and grow, lead me to a faith that does not obscure truth and to a truth that does not obscure faith. Amen.
Order of Saint Francis and Saint Clare