Monthly Archives: December 2015
In John 18:38 Pontius Pilate asks Jesus, “What is truth?” It seems humanity has struggled throughout the ages to discern truth. Yet in the movie A Few Good Men, Colonel Jessep, played by Jack Nicholson, uttered those famous lines, “You want the truth? You can’t handle the truth!!” While ruminating on the nature of truth I began to wonder if we Christians are a people who want the truth, not matter how grotesque it might seem because it flies in the face of the ideologies we create to live by. If so, then why are Christians so politically divided in America?
In John 8:31-32 Jesus tells the Jews, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Jesus then engages some of the Jews in a lengthy argument about the veracity of his claim that he is the Son of God and the Jews claim that they were sons of Abraham (which in their minds was their ticket to heaven). You see the Jews had cobbled together a religious system, made up in part of customs and traditions, that they believed with all their heart was the path to heaven. And here this upstart Jesus comes along and tells them that their “truth” was actually a lie from their real father the devil. This was simply too much for many of them to bear. Jesus offered them a paradigm shift that would put them on the path of truth and eternal life free from bondage, but they rejected it.
To this day, people tragically look the truth in the eye and deny it. For example, Carol (not her real name) has been a political progressive all her adult life. She believed with all her heart that the Affordable Care Act (aka Obama Care) was a wonderful program that would make healthcare affordable for everyone in America. The Affordable Care Act was a perfect fit within her worldview ideology. But recently her son and daughter-in-law found themselves unemployed and without healthcare insurance. When her son and daughter-in-law attempted to enroll in the Obama Care program, they were told their premiums would be $800 a month. Obamacare considers $800 a month for an unemployed married couple with no income to be “affordable.” When Carol’s son and daughter-in-law shared this with her, she found it difficult to accept the truth and became angry. Oh the irony of the unaffordable Affordable Care Act.
Now before you blast me for using a program cherished by lefties as an example, allow me to offend my brethren right-wingers. My gut tells me that before all is said and done, conservatives may have to eat crow on the issue of climate change. My point is still valid: many on the right will deny the truth of climate change even if the proof becomes indisputable.
As Christians, we must be the ONE group that enthusiastically pursues and venerates truth wherever it is found. But in order to find truth we can’t indulge the tragic luxury of worshipping and living by flawed human ideologies we create to give us purpose, or to feel morally superior, or to feed bitterness and resentments, or to justify our lifestyle, or to grow our little kingdoms, or even to help others. Truth alone is purpose. And Christ embodies truth. Without Christ living in a person’s life, it is impossible to know truth consistently. Even with Christ living in our life, our sinful human nature has a powerful urge to cling tenaciously to those old ideologies we created to make us comfortable. Yes we can know truth, IF we are willing to find it with God’s guidance and embrace it even though it initially rubs us the wrong way.
God richly blessed me this Thanksgiving by allowing me to get a cold in the nick of time to graciously opt out of the feast at my in-laws. I told Cindy I was likely contagious and I did not want to get everyone and their children sick. I’m just that kinda guy, always thinking of others. Oh don’t get me wrong, my in-laws are wonderful people. I’m just not a social type. And the cold allowed me to endure Thanksgiving on my own terms: fading in and out of consciousness on the couch watching football while high on cold medication. It was glorious.
In any case, I got to thinking about gifts for Christmas while “languishing” on the couch. What should I get for my long-suffering wife, my adult children, our ill-mannered dogs, the geriatric cat, and, most importantly, my grandson? While thinking about these things it dawned on me that there is nothing I want for Christmas. This might be a first. In years gone by I have always had my eye on a new tool, or fishing rod, or shotgun, or camping gear. This year there is literally nothing I want. I’ve been praying for a season of wantlessness (yes I just made up that word). Apparently the Lord has answered my prayer, or I finally got tired of accumulating junk that goes unused only to eventually be thrown out as fodder for the county landfill.
I assumed it would feel good to want nothing for Christmas, but I find that I have an uneasy feeling where that feeling of want once resided. Perhaps this is due to living all my life in a culture that incessantly encourages us to want more possessions and experiences. Or maybe the hole left by want makes me ill at ease because want had become a part of my very identity. The reality is that our entire economic model in America is based on a growing population constantly in a state of want. I hope I don’t get culled from the herd for failing to do my part this Christmas season. Yet all my life in the church I’ve heard it said that we should let Jesus fill all our wants and needs, which always sounded like an empty catch phrase to me. But now that want has abandoned me, I find myself leaning more towards Christ and what he has to say about life. I would be lying if I said Christ has filled ALL the real estate formerly occupied by want. The truth is I feel (despite being an uber-introvert) a growing inclination to get closer to family and friends, as well as Christ. People are becoming a higher priority; and that part feels good.
In Psalms 23 we read “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” These nine words take on a whole new meaning and significance when want fades from being a motivation in life. Just wish I’d got here a few decades back. So in the spirit of the real meaning of Christmas: I encourage you to get out there in the malls, shops, and on Amazon and want nothing . . . but Christ. It may be your best Christmas ever.