Focus 2 (of 4)-Rightness is Passing

Focus 2|Rightness is Passing

The very idea of a competition between "right" and "wrong" only exists now, on earth. This matters for two reasons. When you're exhausted by it, you can find some hope and comfort in knowing that any controversy or confusion or even doubt about what's truly right will go away in the light of God's presence in heaven. It also matters because, right here and right now, people are going to disagree about what is right and what is wrong in everything from simple spelling all the way to wars and genocide—which makes it easy for anybody to fall into the trap of thinking that "being right" is what matters most. (Good news. It isn't.)
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The very idea of a competition between "right" and "wrong" only exists now, on earth. This matters for two reasons. When you're exhausted by it, you can find some hope and comfort in knowing that any controversy or confusion or even doubt about what's truly right will go away in the light of God's presence in heaven. It also matters because, right here and right now, people are going to disagree about what is right and what is wrong in everything from simple spelling all the way to wars and genocide—which makes it easy for anybody to fall into the trap of thinking that "being right" is what matters most. (Good news. It isn't.)
Here’s a question: Are you a good speller?

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
1 Corinthians 13:8–12
Let's say a prayer together as we dive into this Spotlight.
Prayer of Intercession: Your Love
(inspired by 1 Corinthians 13:1–13)

Your love is patient; we give you thanks for all those who have been patient with us and have taught and cared for us;
and we pray for the patience to love others
as you have loved us.

Your love is kind; give us the courage to be kind to others and to serve those with patience who are so often unkind, rude, difficult to love, or our enemies.
They are your children and our sisters and brothers
and they were made in your image.

Your love is not pompous; give us insight to speak the truth in love
and for the sake of your kingdom
and not out of a need to appear clever or right
and in all our relationships
give us the wisdom to listen far more than we speak.

Your love does not seek its own interests; we thank you and pray for those who serve the poor and those in need,
who give tirelessly of themselves and who have much to do and little time for themselves.
Your love is not quick-tempered; we pray for those who are angry and for the violent and their victims;
for children who fear, elders who are abused, and people trapped in relationships that injure and harm.
Your love bears all things; we remember before you those with heavy burdens, many cares, much stress, and too little comfort and help.
Open our eyes to those around us and their needs and give us the wisdom to offer help without any prying or sense of superiority.
Your love never fails; even death does not trespass on the breadth and depth of your love.
We thank you for those we have loved in this life and who now dwell in the peace and joy of your presence and let your comfort settle on those who are bereaved or who are lonely this day.
In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen
Reflect on this poem about the times when knowledge gets in the way.

John Davies was a contemporary of William Shakespeare. In this poem, entitled "Why Did My Parents Send Me to the Schools" he reflects on the ways that knowledge falls short. A few notes before you read the poem:
  • The first several verses are focused on the story from the beginning of the Bible when Adam and Eve (the first man and woman) ate the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (or Good and "Ill")—they pursued knowledge, but didn't gain anything by it—instead, they plunged the world into sin. 
  • Leech-craft is another term for practicing medicine. 

Why did my parents send me to the schools? by John Davies
Why did my parents send me to the Schools,
That I with knowledge might enrich my mind?
Since the desire to know first made men fools,
And did corrupt the root of all mankind.

Even so by tasting of that fruit forbid,
Where they sought knowledge, they did error find;
Ill they desir’d to know, and ill they did;
And to give Passion eyes, made Reason blind.

For then their minds did first in Passion see
Those wretched shapes of misery and woe,
Of nakedness, of shame, of poverty,
Which then their own experience made them know.

But then grew Reason dark, that she no more,
Could the faire forms of Good and Truth discern;
Bats they became, that eagles were before:
And this they got by their desire to learn.

All things without, which round about we see,
We seek to know, and how therewith to do:
But that whereby we reason, live and be,
Within our selves, we strangers are thereto.

We seek to know the moving of each sphere,
And the strange cause of th’ebs and floods of Nile;
But of that clock within our breasts we bear,
The subtle motions we forget the while.

We that acquaint our selves with every Zone
And pass both Tropics and behold the Poles,
When we come home, are to our selves unknown,
And unacquainted still with our own souls.

We study Speech but others we persuade;
We leech-craft learn, but others cure with it;
We interpret laws, which other men have made,
But read not those which in our hearts are writ.

Is it because the mind is like the eye,
Through which it gathers knowledge by degrees −
Whose rays reflect not, but spread outwardly:
Not seeing itself when other things it sees?

No, doubtless; for the mind can backward cast
Upon her self her understanding light;
But she is so corrupt, and so defac’t,
As her own image doth her self affright.

Confess sins and acknowledge forgiveness.
If Davies' reflection is correct, we're in a tough spot—but God has given us a solution to the ways that our knowledge fails us and gets in our way. Read the prayer below responsively, having one person read the plain text and the rest of the group join on the bolded text. Every word of the bold text is a direct quote from Psalm 139.

Lord, you know me and everything there is to know about me.
You have searched me and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. 
You know every version of me, and the ways I struggle against myself.
You know the terrible things I've thought but never done,
the awful words I've kept silently inside.

You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on by tongue you, Lord, know it completely. 
You know that when I am honest, I must respond to the depravity, brutality, and dark reality of people's actions on this earth with the confession that "But for the grace of God, I would do the same."
You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. 
Why, O Lord, do we so often resist you?
Why keep you at arm's length when you want to be near us?
Why avoid you when you have so much good to offer us?
Thank you for pursuing me, even though I run from you.

Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there you hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you. Amen. 
Kent's grandma did puzzles, but for a unique reason.

My grandma, Vernabelle Kastberg, did puzzles. You could count on it. If you went to visit grandma, especially after grandpa had passed away, you could expect that there would be a jigsaw puzzle partly done on the table. She worked on puzzles every day, consistent as can be. And just as consistently, when she'd finish a puzzle, she'd just break it down, put it in the box, and grab a new one. For awhile there, while she was living with my parents, my mom would try to get a picture of her with every puzzle she would finish, but that wasn't really Grandma's way, because she didn't really do puzzles to finish them. She just did puzzles.
In fact, there were puzzles she wouldn't finish. She'd get them out and get going on them and before too long find that this particular puzzle wasn't worth it. It was too hard, too many pieces, too...something. And if she came to that conclusion, you could count on the fact that unless one of us grandkids was working on it with her and really wanted to finish it, grandma would have no problem just putting it back into the box it came from and moving on to a different puzzle. Grandma didn't do puzzles because she had some need to finish them. She did puzzles...
  • How would you end the story?
The writer of Proverbs 30 saw puzzles as a part of living.

Rotate readers and walk through this unique chapter of the book of Proverbs. While wise King Solomon wrote most of the book of Proverbs, some of the later chapters are attributed to others (it's possible that Solomon collected these sayings from other wise people to record in his book of Proverbs). This is one of those, in which Agur (nobody really knows who this person was) reflects on the mysteries of life.

1 The sayings of Agur son of Jakeh—an inspired utterance. This man’s utterance to Ithiel: “I am weary, God, but I can prevail.
2 Surely I am only a brute, not a man; I do not have human understanding.
3 I have not learned wisdom, nor have I attained to the knowledge of the Holy One.
4 Who has gone up to heaven and come down? Whose hands have gathered up the wind? Who has wrapped up the waters in a cloak? Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is his name, and what is the name of his son? Surely you know!
5 “Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.
6 Do not add to his words, or he will rebuke you and prove you a liar.
7 “Two things I ask of you, Lord; do not refuse me before I die:
8 Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread.
9 Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God.
10 “Do not slander a servant to their master, or they will curse you, and you will pay for it.
11 “There are those who curse their fathers and do not bless their mothers;
12 those who are pure in their own eyes and yet are not cleansed of their filth;
13 those whose eyes are ever so haughty, whose glances are so disdainful;
14 those whose teeth are swords and whose jaws are set with knives to devour the poor from the earth and the needy from among mankind.
15 “The leech has two daughters. ‘Give! Give!’ they cry. “There are three things that are never satisfied, four that never say, ‘Enough!’:
16 the grave, the barren womb, land, which is never satisfied with water, and fire, which never says, ‘Enough!’
17 “The eye that mocks a father, that scorns an aged mother, will be pecked out by the ravens of the valley, will be eaten by the vultures.
18 “There are three things that are too amazing for me, four that I do not understand:
19 the way of an eagle in the sky, the way of a snake on a rock, the way of a ship on the high seas, and the way of a man with a young woman.
20 “This is the way of an adulterous woman: She eats and wipes her mouth and says, ‘I’ve done nothing wrong.’
21 “Under three things the earth trembles, under four it cannot bear up:
22 a servant who becomes king, a godless fool who gets plenty to eat,
23 a contemptible woman who gets married, and a servant who displaces her mistress.
24 “Four things on earth are small, yet they are extremely wise:
25 Ants are creatures of little strength, yet they store up their food in the summer;
26 hyraxes are creatures of little power, yet they make their home in the crags;
27 locusts have no king, yet they advance together in ranks;
28 a lizard can be caught with the hand, yet it is found in kings’ palaces.
29 “There are three things that are stately in their stride, four that move with stately bearing:
30 a lion, mighty among beasts, who retreats before nothing;
31 a strutting rooster, a he-goat, and a king secure against revolt.
32 “If you play the fool and exalt yourself, or if you plan evil, clap your hand over your mouth!
33 For as churning cream produces butter, and as twisting the nose produces blood, so stirring up anger produces strife.”
Listen to the song, Be Kind to Yourself.
Talk through Proverbs 30 to see what knowledge can't do.
It's probably best to look up Proverbs 30 on your own, in a Bible or on a screen. Navigate through the presentation by using the buttons and arrows in the frame below.
Turn to Proverbs to consider the value of wisdom.
From Proverbs 1, starting at verse 20:
20 Out in the open wisdom calls aloud,
    she raises her voice in the public square;
21 on top of the wall[d] she cries out,
    at the city gate she makes her speech:
22 “How long will you who are simple love your simple ways?
    How long will mockers delight in mockery
    and fools hate knowledge?
23 Repent at my rebuke!
    Then I will pour out my thoughts to you,
    I will make known to you my teachings.
24 But since you refuse to listen when I call
    and no one pays attention when I stretch out my hand,
25 since you disregard all my advice
    and do not accept my rebuke,
26 I in turn will laugh when disaster strikes you;
    I will mock when calamity overtakes you—
27 when calamity overtakes you like a storm,
    when disaster sweeps over you like a whirlwind,
    when distress and trouble overwhelm you.
28 “Then they will call to me but I will not answer;
    they will look for me but will not find me,
29 since they hated knowledge
    and did not choose to fear the Lord.
30 Since they would not accept my advice
    and spurned my rebuke,
31 they will eat the fruit of their ways
    and be filled with the fruit of their schemes.
32 For the waywardness of the simple will kill them,
    and the complacency of fools will destroy them;
33 but whoever listens to me will live in safety
    and be at ease, without fear of harm.”
Now, consider these questions:
  • Whom does wisdom call? 
  • Who is susceptible to missing the call of wisdom?
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Sing along with (or listen to) this song to close out this Spotlight.'

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