Here’s how it works: Lay an onion thin sheet of tracing paper over the image you want to copy, use the tip of a pencil to capture the most important lines, and… watch as a replica emerges. Ooops! You’ve let the paper slip off its mark and now that beautiful ballet dancer has an eyeball in her ear. Your image resembles the original, but that half inch slide twisted a work of grace into something grotesque.
I love you and I don’t want to hurt your feelings. I’d like to say your piece beauifully captures the poise and serenity of a ballerina. I could pretend things are going well. But I don’t. I say, “I think your paper shifted – you better move it back or your rendering is going to look really weird.”
God’s reality is different from mine and it’s different from yours. His design is everywhere. He made this world, infused it with love and laughter and hope. And He laid down laws. Physical laws, like gravity. Spiritual laws, that effect our eternal destiny. He tells us that unseen things matter more than the things we can see. He says it is better to give than to receive. He honors humilty. Says that justice looks like the rich helping the poor, the strong standing up for the weak. He tells us what is true. He calls us, above all else, to love.
I’m an introverted Canadian and I think loving others means getting along with everyone and keeping quiet when I disagree with you.
Last week someone told me that the call to love sometimes means gently resting a hand on someone’s tracing paper and shifting it back onto the original image.
There is a time to speak and a time to keep still, but if we see a parent or spouse or child or sibling or pastor happily adopting a worldview that has elbows coming from ears and tutus sticking out of shoulders, we should say something. Love requires it. If we allow those we love to slide off of the mark, so that their view of reality does not align with God’s reality, they will not be better for it.
This takes tact, of course. I’m not suggesting we all go fire and brimstone and started blazing at the people around us. I’m just saying that love means waiting for the right moment to gently put a finger to the paper in order to lift it ever so slightly to reveal the original that is underneath.
We can ignore it, say that it’s relative. We can create our own version of it. We can pretend that our way is the right way, that our views are the enlightened ones.
Or we can peel back the paper – ours first, others at the right time – to reveal the image we all need to see in order to realign ourselves with those original lines.