You hear it a lot.  You hear it in contract negotiation, in teaching, in foreign policy, in the writing of treaties and agreements.


People speak about “clarity” all of the time.  We aim for it, we wish for it and we even consider it an accomplishment of maturity and adulthood when we can actually say that we have achieved clarity on an issue.

In one’s own spiritual life I believe that this drive toward clarity can become an idol that does nothing but distract us from the truth.  In a society that values pleasure and entertainment above all, what we perceive as clarity can be a diversion which does nothing but turn our face away from God.

Consider Paul. We know him as the writer of the letters to various communities as well as the book of Acts. He is single-handedly responsible for almost one-third of the entire Bible.

Paul was bright, articulate, multi-lingual, multi-cultural, and educated by the finest scripture scholar of the time, Gamaliel. Paul was a Pharisee (lawyer) and a communicator. When he left Jerusalem to seek and destroy the “errant” members of The Way he was perfectly clear!  He even obtained documentation from the high priest that affirmed his mission to kill and maim Christians. His intent was based in a love of his religion and he was sure that by wiping out as many Christians as he could he was doing nothing but serving God at the highest level.

Beware of clarity!

In our modern society it is easy to mistake opinion for fact when it comes to spiritual realms.  Society rewards greed and teaches by example that there is no difference between wants and needs.  A person who truly has an ear open to God, though, has a different awareness.  Listening to God can have its apparent contradictions but one thing is always true: God never contradicts himself and the will of the Lord never contradicts scripture.

Jesus told one set of lepers to show themselves to the priest but for others he commanded them not to reveal that he was the healer. Although Paul believed he was standing in defense of his religion, murder was never a reflection of the will of the Lord.

When you are put in the position of taking a stand, make sure you don’t worship the false god of clarity. As a matter of fact, if you feel like you will make a decision that contradicts the culture around you, it’s probably pretty close to the truth.

In his ministry Jesus contradicted the culture all of the time.  He was out of the norm his entire life; that’s why they killed him.   Paul learned that lesson when he was struck blind. Because of that contradiction he was able to see more clearly than he ever had before.

Sometimes God’s will puts us in the line of fire. Don’t allow the false clarity of fear or prejudice to replace the will of the Lord in your life. You could be perfectly clear about the wrong thing.

Copyright 2014, Kathryn M. Cunningham

Kathryn M. Cunningham

Kathryn M. Cunningham

Kathryn holds a Master’s in Education from Saint Xavier University. Most recently she completed Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies from The Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. This recent degree was part of a “retirement project” after teaching for 35 years. She has also worked as a spiritual director, music minister,council member and prayer team warrior. Kathryn has a deep interest in catechesis for the people in the pews. As a “sort of” convert she finds the wisdom of the Church a source for encouragement, joy and survival in a world not sure of anything. Her writing has appeared in diocesan publications and on-line sites, most recently for Zenit. To learn more about Kathryn check out her thinking at:">

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