Sunday, Nov. 21, 2021
There are so many truths out there clamoring for our acceptance that just once I would like to know which to believe. I would like to ask the Oracle where the Well of Truth might be that I could drink from it. Or how far to that island called Truth that you and I might row to it? Or when there will be enough silence that any of us will hear Truth speak? I would simply like to know.
This week, the gospel of John allows us to slip in on a conversation between Pilate and Jesus, and overhear their repartee over whether or not Jesus is a king, for Pilate seems particularly intrigued by the possibility. Finally, he says to Jesus, “Then you are a king?” And Jesus, always the truthful one, answers, “You say I am a king. For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”
If that is so, why is it that these days we have such a difficult time coming upon the truth? There seem to be so many truths, each insisting it is the true truth. Yet, life is seldom so clearly black or white. Most often it is shades of gray, a clutter of biases and personal wisdom and ignorance and dreams of how life could be or should be. In the midst of it all, we long to know what is right, for something that can be clearly known as true. Because it seems to mostly elude our grasp, the temptation is then to make our own personal truth the truth. At least we will have something we can count on, we say to ourselves. Yet, truth is not so easily known. Often, it must be discovered. It tends to unfold over time, seeping into our awareness.
Jesus may have come to testify to the truth, but he did not come with a statement or list of truths to which he asked us to profess belief, at least none beyond proclaiming that God’s reign is in our midst and that the Father is in us and we are in the Father. Nor did Jesus come with a well-articulated moral code. Though he was a good Jew and so would have followed Jewish practices, his moral code was to love God and love our neighbor as ourselves. Everything else seemed to be contained in that simple statement. So then what is the truth to which he gave testimony? What does it mean to believe that Jesus is our truth, that he is the one who testifies to the truth?
Perhaps it is his life that we must read. In so many ways, even today, his life speaks louder than his words, for he certainly lived all that he taught. His life became lived truth for us, the word made flesh. Perhaps it is a bit of foolhardiness on my part to attempt a list of truths proclaimed by his life, yet I risk doing so. You may disagree with them, or you may wish to add other truths which his life speaks. These are some of the truths I tend to think he was about:
- The little people know more of what life is about than do the big people. Children seem to be especially good at that;
- Less is more, even if you’re the only one who believes that;
- Sitting with silence can be the path to wisdom;
- Loving someone can heal their pain;
- Someone’s sin does not lessen someone’s worth or goodness;
- Compassion is not weakness and success is not strength;
- We are responsible for one another, even if we have been hurt by them;
- If life brings you to doors you do not want to enter, it may be where you are meant to go;
- Meaning in life is found only by living for others. There is no other way;
- Wisdom is found in the struggle and in the pain;
- The darkness can be another path to the light; and
- How one dies is not the final statement of one’s life. How one has loved is.
That then is the difference between his life and ours, between a lived volume of eternal truths and our paltry scratchings of little more than a list of half-wisdoms we glean along life’s way. It is why we say he is a king, though not one who lords it over us as if we were no more than serfs in his realm. Rather, he is as if a pauper-king, one who lives disguised as one of us that we might more readily recognize the truths he lives.
What truths from the life of Jesus would you add?
What truth does your life speak?