Have you ever noticed that there’s only one side to every story? I know the old adage says it differently… something about “two sides.” But, it’s been my experience that there’s always only one. I used to think it was mine.
I used to know when I was in an argument or when there was a misunderstanding between me and someone else that there was only one side to the story and I had it. I was right. They were wrong. They just weren’t seeing clearly or their logic was off or they were just being dull or they were looking for a good excuse to be angry at me or they were jerks or choosing to be stupid or numbskulls. I like that word… “numb-skulls.” It’s such a tangible expression. It’s like “no-brain.”
I remember watching an interview where an actor referred to a director as having “the brain of a pea.” He didn’t say he had a brain “the size of a pea” (which is how I’ve always heard it). He said he had the brain of a pea. I liked that, too. It is so graphic. I spent a little while looking forward to the moment when I could copy that, use it to refer to someone who ticked me off.
That was when I used to think that there was only one side and that it was mine.
Now, I’m convinced that there’s always only one side to every story… and it’s always God’s.
When I was at the place in my life where I was open to collecting clever insulting names to use on people I came upon “Raca.” It’s the old word for “empty-head,” a different way of saying “no-brain.” The trouble, for me, was it was used by Jesus and it was in the middle of his saying that people who refer to others this sort of way were just as guilty of murder as the person who just fired the gun. Paying attention to Jesus means you have to give up clever insults. That can feel like a drag for a while because they’re so tasty. They have such a chewy, saltiness that it makes you want to hang onto them for a while… and there’s Jesus telling you to spit it out. Like some Mom who discovered you picked up something from the ground and in her disgust, she’s still telling you to spit it into her hand. Jesus is acting like that. She wants it out of you.
I had friends, next-door neighbors, when I was little, who decided to try out the taste of tar from the new coating that had just been put down on the road outside our houses. Their mom not only made them spit it out, but she used a little Lestoil to get it off their teeth. Talk about washing your mouth out with soap! My Mom made a big deal of telling me NEVER to do that or she might need to use Lestoil on me.
That’s a word from God. If you do something like that, if you put words like this in your mouth, we’re going to have to do some heavy-duty cleansing.
Jesus has this way of taking something that seems like a cool idea at the time and showing us how it impacts us really. Which can feel like buzz-kill until you think about it with him… and then you’re getting to the one side of the story.
The one side belongs to God because God’s the only one who sees the whole story. He knows what’s going on in everyone’s head and heart. He knows what we have seen and what we haven’t seen, what we’ve mixed up or ignored. He knows… and we don’t. There’s always one side to every story and it belongs to God. That’s why he calls us to reconciliation. He’s telling us that we need to join him in getting back together with people, so we both admit to the story he’s revealing to us.