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Jesus prayed in the garden.

In light of the ecclesial tremors of this past week and the “death” of evangelicalism, even if it may have been “greatly exaggerated…”

We remember that Jesus prayed in the garden to his Father, “Sanctify them in truth. Your word is truth.”

Sanctify. Set apart. Consecrate. Baptize them in truth.

Them. Disciples. Past. Present. Future.

When Pilate interrogated Jesus about whether he was a king, Jesus summed up his identity and mission with these words: “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.”

As the Father sent Jesus to testify to the truth, so Jesus has sent the church to testify to the truth to the world. Jesus has sent the church to be a community that proclaims the truth, but I wonder if we can even tell the truth to one another.

The evangelical church in the United States has accommodated to a polarized and polemical culture. The ways we disagree and the types of things we fight over are no different from cable news. We dig in and deliver our talking points. We can’t suspend judgment long enough to hear the other person. We do this because we are afraid. We are afraid that if we stop judging, the truth might be lost. Friends, this dark cloud of fear and suspicion is actually hindering our ability to hear the truth. Only through genuine listening will the truth be found.

Jesus promised, “When the Spirit of Truth comes, he will guide you into all truth.”

The church is full of members who have lots of questions and doubts but they do not feel safe to talk about it with church people. The church, I suspect, is also full of pastors who feel the same way. I should know.  I am one of them. Conversations about homosexuality, evolution, climate change, and health care are avoided. No, the church is not where you learn to tell the truth, it is where we learn to be silent.. a pretend people. We will never proclaim Jesus Christ out “there” if we cannot find our voice in “here.”

Jesus promised, “When the Spirit of Truth comes, he will guide you into all truth.”

I suspect the church’s fear of discussing our differences is connected to our lack of faith that the Spirit is more than able to guide us into all truth.  If we believed the Spirit guides us into all truth, maybe we would be less afraid about others being wrong… or being wrong ourselves. My truth may not be the truth, but, unless I’m willing to share truthfully and truly listen to the other and to the Spirit,I will not move any closer to the Truth.

 

Spirit, fill your church with courage and conviction,

To find her voice once again,

Silenced from being more “astronomically intimidated, than God-intoxicated,”

Give us the freedom to listen for your Word that is truth.

We long for the wild bells to ring,

to “ring out the false, ring in the true.”

“ring out the darkness of the land

and ring in the Christ that is to be.”

 

This post was part of the April Synchroblog, where various bloggers all write on the same topic. Below is a list of the other contributors this month:

30 thoughts on “Speak Truth

  1. And will the Truth of Christ look the same in all our lives, in how we are called to live it out? Do we need-are we called-to grasp it fully? I don’t *think* so, but what if I’m wrong? Is doing our best to be faithful to the bit we do grasp-or do our best to-enough?

    • Jennifer, I feel like you are putting more weight on the post than it can possibly bear. :) “Look the same in all our lives?” Of course not. “Grasp it fully?” No way. We have to hold epistemological humility and divine revelation in tension. This has to get worked out in Spirit-led, imperfect communities. Will the work ever be done? No. Can we move closer to the truth? I believe so with Holy Spirit.

  2. 2 points I think need to be made beyond the fact that I think the premise of the post misses the mark. I don’t believe genuine authentic Christians operate from the premise that judging others protects or preserves truth (I think we’re smarter than that given the words of Christ)… I believe that may be a conclusion reached based on assumption rather than listening?? but there are a few very important points made that need a little re-framing.

    1. While I agree we live in a polemic culture, I would contend that the nature of judging is a 2 way street and done most often in response or reaction to hostility one receives (someone attacks, I respond with attack, they respond, etc etc). With the Church constantly under fire for being backward in its thinking and not joining the 21st century by redefining our understanding of the Faith AND with the lack of authentic leadership within the church, Christians have no where to go. I would challenge this bloggers (who is a pastor)… Set the example! As a former pastor, I understand that is the mantle pastors are called to… other Christians need to hear a strong voice say… this is the way of Christ, Walk in it!! But as the blogger alludes to, the fear that engulfs christians and pastors is all consuming, which leads me to the 2nd point.

    2. This blogger is absolutely right when he says we don’t trust the Holy Spirit for truth and our convictions within culture or the church. I would contend it is because we don’t even know who the Holy Spirit is!!! Most Churches teach that the HS is part of conscience and influences us in ways in which our behavior is honorable and with all the best intentions…. but seriously, that no one can really know what is or is not the HS because 1) because we’re afraid to proclaim it if convicted of it because 2) we are so unsure of the HS or that ‘little ole me’ cold have received truth. The problem here is that our teaching of the HS, over the last 150 years, has been rooted in experience… and no one wants to invalidate some one else’s experience. But that’s where we are all hoodwinked to believe all experiences are valid. For Christians who believe in the deity of Christ and the Holy Spirit, Christian experience is guided by 2 things- the subjective and the objective. The subjective is that which is unique to my apprehension of an event or idea. The objective is that which is rooted and grounded in the person, work, teaching of Jesus Christ. remember, the HS CANNOT teach anything that does not come first from Christ (John 14/16). it is here we have the biggest problem. If individuals want to have the corner on truth, they have missed the whole point of the HS. The “YOU” he guides into all truth is a collective you!! Agreeing with the blogger that we have to listen to one another, but truth comes only from a collective hearing, and this we are very afraid of because it removes control from our grasps. What happens if we measure our experiences by the work, ministry and teaching of Christ and the collective body, through prayer and fasting, comes to a decision “I” don’t agree with?? Is it ok that I heard the HS wrong. This issue concerning the HS is the greatest issue facing the body of Christ today… much would be resolved, if “We” resolved to address this.

    Our fears of being judged/and or reactions to being judged by judging are rooted in the same thing many of the early churches feared… persecution for beliefs… and this is becoming more prevalent. It also reflects the fact that most Christians have a weak understanding of the ministry of the Holy Spirit, who he is, what he has come to do, how we can know with confidence he has spoken…. therefore, if we are judging to protect something, it is because we believe we can protect it. And this is rooted in a much deeper problem of faith and understanding of salvation and sanctification than any amount of listening will overcome.

    Thanks for the post…

    • Rob, thanks for commenting. You make a good point about judging. Fear is not the only reason we judge and judging (in a discerning) sense is a part of being responsible and moral beings.. So point well made. I oversimplified as a way to make a point about a certain kind of judging that refuses to continue listening.

  3. Perhaps too much weight is put on the shoulders of our leaders? We are all baptized in the royal priesthood of believers, all of us indwelt by the Holy Spirit. We need to take risks, but take them prayerfully. We need to work harder on loving and serving those around us and those far off. Theological differences will remain but are they really as important as loving God and our neighbour?

    Thank you for this thoughtful post and the interesting discussion it has begun.

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  22. “We are afraid that if we stop judging, the truth might be lost.”

    I can identity with that statement — it’s as if we feel wholly responsible for the integrity and purity of the truth. Yet, as you clarify, it is the Holy Spirit who holds this responsibility. Rather, we are to be a people who love well. And follow the Spirit to the truth. Thank you for this.

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  27. Thanks for joining in the conversation. I also sense that a lot of the division present in the church is rooted in fear – fear of being wrong and fear of change. I try to live out my beliefs with conviction while at the same time trying to keep an open mind that I might be wrong … that way I hope I can remain teachable.

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