Pentecost +10 – Year B
We can be very cruel in what we say to one another and justify such by claiming we are speaking the truth to our neighbor (see verse 25). By the time we get to verse 32 it becomes clear that the ending bracket to this section is a way of defining truth – being kind (gentle), tenderhearted (sensitive), and forgiving. When these actions are present we know we are also in the presence of truth.
This is not a robust, doctrinaire Christianity that is setting out to make the world in its image. This is an extravagantly loving Christianity that imitates Christ imitating G*D. This imitation is the setting loose of a creative word that attempts to see what we might yet do together that will take us beyond where we have come so far. When a time of conflict arises between these forms of Christianity, we might expect that the doctrinaire will have the power and willingness to use it to shape others. This is often true in the short-run. As has been noted, however, the arc of love is long and persistent. Note how often doctrine needs to be restated, this is evidence of its limitation. There is no limit to an expansive love.
Between the bracket of "truth" and that of "kindness, sensitivity, and forgiveness" any number of examples can be used. It may be about thieves or spouses or drunkards or any of the other behavioral examples Paul uses. These are moveable examples in the midst of brackets about larger categories of truth or reverence or strength or . . . .