06 March 2009

Truth or Relationship?

Recently, we've been thinking much about how much our cultural preferences and habits influence our interpretation, understanding and application of the Bible in our daily lives. We've also been reading (actually, Richelle is reading... and then shares with Tim, reading large portions aloud) a book about cultural conflict and have shared in a few posts here and here some of the things we are learning. It has definitely given us a ton of "food for thought..."

Last week, a friend asked me a question: "What is more important, TRUTH or RELATIONSHIP?" I've been mulling that over and praying about it for the better part of a week now. In Western cultures, we tend to sacrifice (or at least strain) relationships for the cause of truth/justice. Here in Niger, people tend to sacrifice (or stretch or let slide) truth/justice for the sake of maintaining relationship. Which is right? I think the obvious answer is neither... but I know that I'm more comfortable with, better understand and tend to lean towards the former rather than the latter. And I tend to judge (rather harshly) in my heart those who tend to lean towards the latter...

As I've pondered, prayed about and meditated on this subject, I think God gently pointed something out to me as I was preparing for Ladies' Bible Study at church last week (which was awesome, by the way... I'll have to share about that another day!). Our God places both as His priority and in Him, one never has to trump the other. The Trinity - who He is - is all about perfect relationship; three individual persons absolutely unified as one God. And the Bible is clear: our God IS absolute truth. Both priorities, relationship and truth, are perfectly expressed in Him alone... and if we are going to find any semblance of the same in our lives, it has to be through Holy Spirit guidance... and will never be perfectly achieved in this lifetime.

What a huge reminder (or maybe a wake-up call?) as we seek to live here, to collaborate with and minister to others from a very different cultural perspective - to be careful in what assumptions I make, attributions I assign and judgements I form regarding others, their words and their behaviors... When fellow believers do something that seems questionable (or even unbiblical at my first look), I need to approach carefully and prayerfully... God may show me that I've got a cultural log in my eye...

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