Season 2 - Week 6
“When integrity is complicated”
Choose integrity but don’t kid yourself it’s going to be an easy ride. If integrity was a free ticket to health, wealth and happiness, more people would want it. In truth, it’s just as likely to bring you trouble – in this life at least.
A hurried late night summons, angry accusations, a slap across the face – Jesus’ answer isn’t just to affirm what He said, but the way He said it: “I said nothing in secret”. What you saw, what you heard – that’s who I am and what I believe. But Jesus’ integrity leads to the cross.
Anyone about to commit themselves to the practice of integrity might want to use this scene from the Gospels as a moment to pause and reflect. Making good choices is the right way to live but the wrong path if you want a stress-free life. "I may have lost my ability to travel," Edward Snowden, the controversial former Central Intelligence Agency whistleblower said. "But I've gained the ability to go to sleep at night and to put my head on the pillow and feel comfortable that I've done the right thing even when it was the hard thing. And I'm comfortable with that." That’s a choice he’s made – and one you and I also make if we decide to take integrity seriously. You’ll only know how much you genuinely want to do that when you face a real dilemma. A moment when you have to take a stand on something in front of those you love, or fear or work for – and maybe even have something precious to lose if you do.
A long term commitment to integrity would be easier if every decision was a clear cut choice between right and wrong. Oh that it might be so, but the dilemmas you’ll face will rarely be as easy to navigate. That’s where it’s important that your decisions are rooted in more than your own judgement. ‘Give a little whistle, give a little whistle and always let your conscience be your guide’ sang Jiminy Cricket in Disney’s Pinocchio, which isn’t great advice even accounting for the fact he’s just an insect. Conscience is a good starting point, but it’s too easy to justify an action to yourself for it to be the only way you make decisions. ‘The heart is deceitful above all things’ reflects Jeremiah a little more soberly.
What enables Jesus to stand firm through his life and in this moment – surrounded by ‘officials’ and facing Annas down? It’s the middle of the night, often a time when it’s easy to lose perspective or fail to think clearly. But Jesus remains steadfast.
You don’t make the right decisions in moments like that unless you’ve made some fundamental choices about the way you live many years before
You don’t make the right decisions in moments like that unless you’ve made some fundamental choices about the way you live many years before – those nights in prayer on the Galilean hillside create a perspective and certainty for Jesus that means this encounter with Annas, and those still to come later that night, are rooted in a deep knowledge of who He is and what He is there to do. Translate that into our lives today – and it's a reminder that it's the investment of time you give to your faith over the months and years which shape your response in that critical moment – in community with others who are prepared to speak honestly to you, in prayer, in Scripture.
There’s no short cut to a life lived with integrity – but you get to choose the path towards it today.
Meanwhile, the high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching.
“I have spoken openly to the world,” Jesus replied. “I always taught in synagogues or at the temple, where all the Jews come together. I said nothing in secret. Why question me? Ask those who heard me. Surely they know what I said.”
When Jesus said this, one of the officials nearby slapped him in the face. “Is this the way you answer the high priest?” he demanded. “If I said something wrong,” Jesus replied, “testify as to what is wrong. But if I spoke the truth, why did you strike me?” Then Annas sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.
@I may have lost my ability to travel, but I've gained the ability to go to sleep at night and to put my head on the pillow and feel comfortable that I've done the right thing even when it was the hard thing. And I'm comfortable with that."
Recognise this quote from today's article? It's fairly similar to something Jesus once said:
"For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it." Matthew 16:25
Integrity is all about choosing the right way, but not always the easy way. What are the things in your life that you fear losing? Talk to God about these things.
Your values shape the decisions you make every single day, but never more than in those intense dilemma moments when the choice is between standing up for what you believe or staying in with the crowd.
So what are your values? What are the things you believe so deeply that they underpin everything you do?
We've spent six weeks looking at integrity and Christian life. Take some time now to reflect on the articles and challenges, the thoughts you've had and the things God has been saying to you as you've explored integrity.
You see us all
You are watching me now,
so I must not pretend.
Because you see me as I really am,
I cannot tell you I am important
since the only importance I have
is the importance you have given me
by making me and redeeming me;
I cannot tell you I am clever
since any cleverness I have comes from you;
I cannot tell you I am good,
for when I stand at the side of Jesus I am not.
You watch me, and you accept me as I am.
So I should stop pretending to be someone different
and let You and everyone else see just me.
Make me more human by letting me be me.
I try to look back at you. I look at Christ.
Anyone who looks at him
sees a reflection of himself made better.
Christ is not like the friends whom I admire.
for He offers not the qualities He is good at,
but whatever quality of mine needs to be made new.
Make me the person you created me to be.
In him you help me to be more human.
Make me the real me.