I am young, relatively, at least in my mind. I still tend to see the majority of decisions as black and white. When I turn the heating on, it’s either “fully on” (5/5 on all the radiator dials) or “fully off”.
When I order a pizza, unless my wise wife stops me, it’s a ‘large’ with all the sides.
These are trivial examples. The more controversial: who should I vote for? How honest should I be? Who can lead a Church, who can preach, and who can’t…and why? What is gender, can it be changed, can it be defined? What is loving, what is not? Should I sell all my possessions to the poor?
I know a lot of people say that as you get older things become less black and white, and a little bit more grey. There is balance, there is nuance, there are caveats and conditions.
I think I am old enough to believe this.
But, at the same time, I think I’m young enough to know the importance of black and white clarity.
Black and white clarity, enables confidence. Where greyness, implies compromise.
Balance. So, was Jesus black and white, or was He grey? A few moments spring to mind:
1) When asked whether His disciples should pay tax, He said: Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and give to God what is God’s.
2) What speaking on promises and vows, He taught that: we shouldn’t swear by heaven or earth, but let our ‘yes’ mean ‘yes’ and our ‘no’ mean ‘no’.
3) When confronted with the woman caught in adultery, He challenged the accusers ‘to throw the first stone only if they had not sinned themselves’.
4) When asked upon which mountain worship was to happen, He foretold: that a time was coming where people would worship in Spirit and Truth.
5) When asked if He was the Son of God, He replied: This is what you say I am.
6) When asked whether or not the disciple John would live forever, Jesus explained: “If I want Him to remain alive, what is that to you”
7) When asked “who is my neighbour”, He told a story and asked in return: “which man was a neighbour?”
It seems our Lord and Saviour was black and white in certain areas, with a wisdom and Gandalf-like ambiguity in other areas. He spoke plainly to some, in parables to others and in riddles to many.