“What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience.” 2Corinthians 5:11
I have a crisp, clear memory of my brother. We are little boys sitting behind the house where we grew up. We are not wearing shirts and have dug worms up out of the ground. Then my brother lays down and lets the worms wriggle on the his stomach. A weird image, but when I told my family about it years later… they announced I was crazy. The moment never happened.
But the image is as clear as day. Even now as I am writing, I can not tell a difference between that memory and others I know happened. Maybe it was a dream my brain confused as reality? Or maybe my brain combined two memories? All I know is that my memory is not to be trusted.
And not just my childhood memories. I often remember things slightly different than wife – generally details that don’t matter. But occasionally details that become a centerpiece in a heartfelt “discussion”. This especially happens when my memory is unsure of the exact details — Did I run that red light? No, surely it was yellow when I hit the intersection… In that moment the camera will provide the evidence, but for today we are left with faulty memories.**
** I suppose one day Google Glass (glasses that incorporate smart phone capabilities) or some Apple creation will record life’s every moment. We will be able to rewind and watch particular events. Happy and Sad… think it is hard to let go of things now?!
How does this affect our conscience? If memories of our mistakes are twisted, rearranged. Then we can justify our actions. Our insults are blunted. All of sudden we are not to blame, because she hurt me first. Our gossip becomes a prayer request. Our judgment become accountability. Our selfishness makes wants into needs.
So our memories, rather than hold us accountable, rebuild the truth. Allowing our mask – the face we put on at church, that has no sin – to become our reality. At least in our own minds.
This is part of why the Law did not work. Our minds continue to justify our actions. To rewrite our history. So Pharisees could believe they were holy – when Christ knew they were “whitewashed tombs”. But in Christ we are filled with the Holy Spirit. The Spirit moves past our masks and mind’s filter. The Spirit dwells in our heart. And there we must daily meet. Daily be remind our own brokenness. But more importantly we are reminded that He first loved us. (see 2Corinthians 3)
And we must also listen to accountability. We must listen to our wife and friends. To hear and respect the truth they provide. To be humble enough to realize we are not perfect. And to always act to improve ourselves. In this way 2 Corinthians 3:18 will be our reality.
“And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”
I took some liberties with the verse opening the blog (2Corinthians 5:11). It is really about Paul and the church of Corinth’s perception of him. But when I first read the verse I took the “we” and “your” to both be referring to myself. Which lead me down the road for the blog. What I am is plain to God, but I am not sure my conscience understands the full extent of my reality. Only Christ knows me. And He is the one who loves me still… Grace.