Sunday, August 20, 2006

Love bears all things, believes all things, ...

A man was accused of committing a violent crime, and everybody said he did it. Everybody except the man and his sister. (Even his mother believed the police, instead of believing her son.) This was in a movie, but I could easily imagine its happening in reality. In the movie, the truth comes out, the man is exonerated, his sister is vindicated, etc.

That movie was an example to me of the kind of love the Apostle Paul talks about in 1 Corinthians 13. Unfortunately, the wording in the Revised Standard Version isn't all that clear:
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
1 Corinthians 13.7 (RSV)
Some years ago I had the good fortune to discover The New Testament in Modern English by J.B. Phillips (London: Geoffrey Bles, 1960), which renders this verse
Love knows no limit to its endurance, no end to its trust, no fading of its hope; it can outlast anything.
I think it was after I read Phillips's version that I was able to make sense of "believes all things" -- and to tie it into that movie I saw however many years ago.

Thus, even a made-for-TV movie can illustrate a point from the Bible. I think that's pretty cool.

But all this up a question: How do you decide who to love, who to trust, who to believe? Children and parents for example -- a child is accused of something, or a child "discovers" a secret about his parents. How can the parent, or the child, decide whether to hope...? If a parent believes the teacher or the police report instead of the child, does that mean there's no love, or not enough? If a child believes the newspaper or the police report instead of his parents, does that mean he's not loving them?

A woman sees evidence suggesting that her husband is having an affair. What does it mean? How can she decide what the truth is? In Shall We Dance? she hires a private detective. In one of those Tom Clancy novels (was it The Sum of all Fears?) she finds out some other way. In those cases, the guy is innocent of any wrongdoing, but he is keeping secrets. But in the general case, what do we do?

Here's what I think. I think I have to pray, I have to ask myself what I know about my loved one, and I have to believe one way or the other.

My belief may turn out to be correct or mistaken, but the good news is that the world won't come to an end if I'm mistaken. God knows the truth, and he's not surprised or shocked by what I believe (or don't). Go with it, and go from there, I guess.

But if I usually believe the "evidence", or believe others, instead of believing my loved one, that may be some indication of how much I love (or don't love) them.

Here's something else I think: God believes in me, and he believes in you. He believes that we can repent of some dangerous or disastrous path we've embarked on, that we can choose to follow him, that we can grow, that we can do good. And we should believe that if we seek him we'll find him.

'cause that's the truth.

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