The Unity of Truth

Arthur Holmes, a former philosophy professor at Wheaton College, wrote a beautiful little book titled All Truth is God’s Truth. In it, he argued what Paul argues in Romans 1 and 2 and John puts forth in the first chapter of his gospel: that God has revealed himself in creation and to all men (The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world) and while sin distorts our understanding of this revelation, everyone at one time or another has had glimpses of real truth, which by its very nature comes from God.

I mention this because I enjoy finding glimpses of that truth in the people around me, in business, in industry, in the mundane and workaday things of life. Tonight I was reading about what a successful portrait photographer (Timothy Greenfield-Sanders) had to say about his craft and it struck me how universal his statement was.

“It’s always about the person.”

Yes, it is. It is never about the photographer, at least not the good ones. It is always about the person you are photographing.

This insight, when you look below the surface, covers more than photography and you can deconstruct it to say what I consider a universal truth: whatever you are doing, it is about that, not you.

For me this simple little argument is the answer to the problem of ego. I have heard it argued over the years that striving to be very good at something (doing music, singing, preaching, teaching, etc.) is not Christian because it is ego centered and prideful. That can be true, but only if what you are doing is about you and not what you are doing. As long as the focus is properly placed, then the problem disappears and it is possible to pursue greatness without giving in to pride and ego.

Let me give you a simple example from Scripture. Paul tells us in 2 Timothy 5:17

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

If it is about God and the Word (and not you) the problem disappears. You can pursue wisdom and God’s approval to the nth degree as long as it is about wisdom and God. But the moment it becomes about you, you have fallen off the wagon and pride and ego have seized the high ground.

I believe this is a general principle, a truth of God that applies to all mankind and to all our endeavors. It doesn’t matter what you are doing, which for me at the moment concerns photographing an upcoming wedding, as long as it is about the wedding, the bride and groom (and never about me) then I am on the right track to wedding photography greatness.

I have seen the truth of this insight demonstrated over and over again. For me, it has been an avenue of freedom for the pursuit of excellence in the service of God. I only have to remember one thing. It is about what I am doing; It is not about me.

May God grant you grace in your pursuit of His truth and may peace be your companion as you pursue excellence in His service.

  1 comment for “The Unity of Truth

  1. Paul O'Rear
    August 22, 2006 at 3:17 pm

    Hi Bill – interesting discussion. In general I agree with your comments, however, I think there is also a borderland in some of this where it is not necessarily either/or. I’m particularly thinking with respect to this comment:

    “For me this simple little argument is the answer to the problem of ego. I have heard it argued over the years that striving to be very good at something (doing music, singing, preaching, teaching, etc.) is not Christian because it is ego centered and prideful.”

    A danger we have in modern Christendom I believe is that we think that ego=evil. That the ego needs to be removed. I don’t believe that’s biblical. The ego needs to be submitted and transformed – not anihilated, ignored, removed.

    “If your eye is pure, your whole body is pure.” If we perceive something purely, or capture something purely that says something both about the object captured as well as the one perceiving/capturing. The same can be said of the opposite.

    If an artist is giving expression to something intensely personal to them, it may indeed be something relating to the ego of that artist – but does that disqualify it from being good and valuable art? J.R.R.Tolkien has written some very good essays on this issue talking about the role of man as sub-Creators – and how this, too, can glorify God.

    Some thoughts from another place beyond the rim. 🙂

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