Tuesday 26 March

3:1 Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers and sisters, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.

2For all of us make many mistakes. Anyone who makes no mistakes in speaking is perfect, able to keep the whole body in check with a bridle.

There is a pinch in this passage that bites deep for a preacher. I often preach further down the road than I have walked. It is part of the preacher’s task to present a grand vision of the fullness of life lived in the Spirit. But woe to me if I fall prey to the illusion that, because I may speak passionately of this journey of faith, I have achieved the heights I seek to glimpse.

I hope I have never given the impression that I believe the lie that I have reached the perfection of a life lived completely in the faith to which I know we are all called.

James is absolutely right, we “all of us make many mistakes.” Over and over I fall short of the beauty, truth, gentleness, light, and compassion that I preach are expressions of my true nature. More times than I can count I have lived as something less than the luminous being I present as God’s vision for my life. I fail at love every day.

I am seldom able to “to keep the whole body in check with a bridle.” Often, I am undisciplined; words pour out of me from a defensive, awkward, guarded place. I am frequently less gentle, open and sensitive than I know God desires for my life. I fail at love every day.

In my faltering, I take heart from the wisdom of Wendell Berry who wrote a “Warning To My Readers” saying,

Do not think me gentle
because I speak in praise
of gentleness, or elegant
because I honor the grace
that keeps this world. I am
a man crude as any,
gross of speech, intolerant,
stubborn, angry, full
of fits and furies. That I
may have spoken well
at times, is not natural.
A wonder is what it is.

This is not false modesty. It is simply the reality I share with all people. I am both dark and light. And I am only safe to be around when I acknowledge that I share with all people the conflicted reality of the human condition.