Jeremiah 31:31-34; Psalm 46; Romans 3:19-28; John 8:31-36
Election Day is this Tuesday. If you’ve been following the Seattle Times you know that during this campaign season they’ve been running a series of articles investigating the claims of candidates & campaigns. They call it “The Truth Needle” & report to what extent the campaigns are being truthful in their claims. Are the ads all true? All false? Usually, they’re somewhere in between.
In John 8, Jesus says, If you continue in my word you are truly my disciples, & you will know the truth, & the truth will make you free. It’s often hard to know how true campaign ads are but with or without a campaign season, how do we know what truth is?
I’d like you to join me in a little experiment. Point your finger toward the ceiling & trace a circle, going clockwise. Everybody going clockwise? Keep tracing that circle as you slowly move your hand lower until it’s at about chest level. Notice what direction you’re tracing the circle: counter- clockwise!
Do it over & over & you will get the same result. Why is that? How is it possible that you could begin tracing in a clockwise direction &, without changing anything, end up tracing in completely the opposite direction?
The answer is: perspective. At the start, you were looking from below. At the end, you were looking from above. Even though nothing changed, everything seemed to change.
Maybe we shouldn’t be so hard on politicians. Yes, there certainly is deception in politics, as there is in the life of ordinary people. But each party & each candidate is coming from a different perspective. They may not be lying as much as telling the truth of what they believe to be most important. And yet, that’s still not the same thing as the truth that Jesus speaks of.
The truth will make you free. What do you think he meant by “truth”?
Well, what is it for you? Some think of truth as black & white answers, with no compromise. Others believe truth means different things for different people. Still others believe that truth is beyond our human ability to grasp—we can’t know the truth.
But none of these answers gets at Jesus’ meaning. If you continue in my word you are truly my disciples, & you will know the truth, & the truth will make you free.
“If you continue in my word…” Jesus says.
If someone asked you to sum up the whole point of Christian faith in one word, what would you say? If someone asked you to sum up God in one word, what would you say? The Bible shows us over & over that the best answer to both questions is…love. “For God so loved the world…” “God is love.” This is the nature of God. And, love is our practice & our Christian mission!
Jesus makes a connection between “truth” & “freedom”—the truth will make you free. In other words, we can’t know truth without love. We can’t be free without love. For Christians, the key to getting at truth is to practice love.
The practice of love gives us a whole different perspective. Remember that clockwise circle you traced from below? It looked completely different from above. So it is with us. From our human perspective we can feel so sure that we’re seeing the whole truth. But our task is to see the world from a different perspective—from God’s perspective. That “love” perspective will make all the difference in how we see the world & how we live our lives.
For example, if love is the key to truth, how do we use love as the basis for how we make our decisions on Election Day? The American vision of freedom to a large extent has become the freedom to protect our own self-interest. But Christian love is not defined by self-interest. It’s about self-giving. To what extent do our votes signal self-giving for others, especially, as Jesus taught, for “the least of these.”
Speaking of love sounds good but we know that in practice deep love is rarely easy. The truth may make us free but we also know that sometimes “the truth hurts” and the truth is often “inconvenient.” It may require us to sacrifice what we believe, even some things we hold dear. We find ourselves drawn again & again to self-interest, fearful of losing what we have or missing out on what more we might gain.
Our Christian task is to open ourselves to a different perspective: instead of self-interest, self-giving—which represents the perspective of God.
Let’s look at another example. Next Sunday is New Consecration Sunday, when we give thanks to God for what we have & honor the generosity of faithful people. We remember that God is faithful. True, we are not great in number; true, our financial resources seem limited, but it’s not about us. From God’s perspective we see possibilities & the privilege of carrying out God’s mission.
The alternative is to rely on our human perspective, seeing only obstacles & limits. We rely on our own power & resources instead of the power of God.
Jesus said, The truth will make you free. Free from fear. Free from slavery to a merely human perspective. Free to love. By daring to love one another, & by extending that love to the world beyond our doors we practice seeing the world as God sees it.
May God bless our efforts to see through the eyes of God. May God lead us to a truth that makes us–& our world–free indeed!