Removing Error from Truth
Imagine you just spend 2 hours in an alpine meadow on your knees picking wild strawberries. You finally have 4 cups of tiny power packed morsels of goodness. If you’ve never eaten a wild strawberry, image five of the very best strawberries you’ve ever eaten packed into the size of a very small grape. Amazing, right? So, you can’t wait to mix them up with a little whip cream and top a freshly baked shortcake. You hike down the mountain and drive home.
Finally after that day’s journey you arrive at home. Joy and a feeling of accomplishment washing over you. As you walk toward the house you are so happy, you are almost ready to bite into these gems. Your mouth is already watering as you smell the sweet red jewels. But as you almost read the house you trip, wobbling you try to regain your balance but alas, you drop the basket spilling it's delicate cargo all over the gravel driveway. Your heart sinks and joy fades as you watch the precious fruit roll in all directions. You scoop up as many as you can find, but now, stuck to the tiny fruit are bits of gravel. So, now what do you do? Do you take the fruit in and wash it or do you just throw it out frustrated and disgusted it's been tainted? I don’t know about you, but I would wash it! I'm not going to give up on those little beauties I worked so hard for. Really, I reason, it’s only a little more work to clean them with the gravel than without. True, the strainer doesn’t get rid of the larger pieces of rocks, those you have to individually pull out. But it’s worth it right? Why would you give up on something you’ve worked so hard to obtain?
Yet, in spiritual, philosophical, emotional, or other matters we can be in danger of throwing out the fruit when we find a bit of gravel in it. We see error and fear grips us. Most of us have been programmed, hard wired, to desire truth over error. Disclaimer, just because we believe we are right or know something to be true doesn't make it so. But we rarely think we are wrong and are ok with that. There is something about being right that drives us. So when falsehood raises its ugly head we are quick, especially Bible believing Christians, to see it and stomp on it.
But what would happen to our little berries if we stomped on them? Would that get rid of the gravel? Well, you certainly wouldn’t have to worry about the gravel that's for sure. It's one way to deal with it. But you won't be able to eat the fruit after that. It just becomes a mess once they are mixed through and through. But you miss the blessing when that happens. The fruit is ruined. But if instead you wash the fruit, you get rid of the gravel, or error, while keeping the fruit, or in our analogy truth. Our desire to crush lies can actually hurt the truth! Wow, not something we think about very often is it?
Wait! Am I saying we should be ok with a little error when it comes attached to some precious fruit? No, not at all. Remember in the analogy, we need to wash the fruit for it to be safe to eat, otherwise we can chip a tooth if we were to eat the berries with even one piece of gravel on it. Just one tiny rock can ruin the experience. That's symbolic!
So what does this mean practically? When you listen to a sermon or read a self help book will it always be 100% true? Do you then cloister yourself from all human influences? God is working to save all humanity would you agree? Does that include Christians? Other religions? Atheists? Of course. One of my career mentors uses little proverbs from the Bible, and sometimes Buddha, and all of them fit in line with my understanding of scripture. Do I throw out a truth which can be support by the Bible because Buddha said it? What if Mohammad said it? Just because I come from one belief system doesn't mean there is ONLY truth in that ONE system and that EVERYTHING else is false. I’ve seen people so fearful of error they throw out important truths, like throwing out the strawberries with gravel stuck to them.
The good news is it’s very easy to separate truth from error, just like washing dirty fruit. We simply look for, and embrace the truth. It’s not that hard or complicated. There maybe some deep and more profound truths in symbols and metaphors hidden in scripture but that’s part of washing preconceived ideas from our own minds. None of us know everything perfectly. We all make mistakes, have biases and hidden assumptions buried in our minds. The more we embrace truth the quicker we will see errors, but it's all contingent on us being willing to accept that truth when we see it.
So, be careful not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. (An old German proverb dating back to Medieval times with truth relevant for all cultures today.)