This blog expresses my own journey and my own thinking.
If you have read my blog much, you know, I am learning to trust and walk intimately with Jesus. I tend to be vulnerable and honest. Herein, I track my steps. I don’t write to offend but to encourage. I believe relationships in life are meant to heal us and bring us joy, so, write to build this relationship I share with you and hopefully enhance relationships you share with others.
Two weeks back I wrote “Only Believe the Truth” and received some interesting responses. Some wrote who were deeply concerned about viewpoints I shared. Others applauded what they read. I tried to show a breadth of viewpoint in what I cited, but also know, we do not all agree.
That’s the reality. My real point last week was whatever we hold to as “truths” within our lives about these world events and other situations, we must practice humility and kindness as we share them. To do anything else would malign the Person of Truth we claim to follow. End. Stop.
I return to this because over the weeks I had two significant conversations with friends deeply concerned by what I had written. Both wanted to hear me out. One of them prefaced the desire for a conversation by saying, “I don’t what to assume I know what you are thinking based upon one blog post.” Thanks be to God! Both wanted to do the hard thing. Instead of reacting, they wanted to talk.
We live in a world of blocking and unfriending, also called the “cancel culture“. Such canceling of others is easily accomplished on phones and computers. We cancel friendships with beloved friends over what we believe is crucial. I’ve walked with many, many people through situations when they have asked me what they ought to do with such friends. I have said, “If you liked them before you discovered this point of disagreement, perhaps better than ending the relationship, invest in conversations to understand the story behind what they believe.” Often, these people went on to discover a depth of relationship previously unknown. Others, backed away from such a challenging conversation, and broke relationship.
These friends of mine, after my blog post, reached out. They said, “We don’t believe in cancel culture.” In that statement, we already had something we agreed about. The conversations were challenging, of course. But also, both conversations left me with a higher degree of love for these folk and commitment toward them.
I’m so grateful to the friends who reached out. They were practicing what I believe in– talking with others, even across what divides us! Check out this marvelous Ted Talk by Jochen Wegner on what is happening in Europe with an experiment in which pairs of people talk together across harsh divides. The results were powerful. Link.
Don’t we need to practice such talking? Our world is split apart over viewpoints of truth.
President Biden in his inaugural address spoke of truth, saying:
“What are the common objects we love that define us as Americans? I think I know. Opportunity. Security. Liberty. Dignity. Respect. Honor. And, yes, the truth. Recent weeks and months have taught us a painful lesson. There is truth and there are lies. Lies are told for power and for profit. And each of us has a duty and responsibility, as citizens, as Americans, and especially as leaders – leaders who have pledged to honor our Constitution and protect our nation – to defend the truth and to defeat the lies.”From the 2021 Inaugural Address, President Biden
Amen, lies are told for power and profit. I agree. And lies need to be defeated! Yes. (What President Biden meant remains yet to be seen.)
Kamala Harris, our newly elected Vice President, and first woman to hold that position, in her 2020 book The Truths We Hold wrote:
“I believe there is no more important and consequential antidote for these times than a reciprocal relationship of trust. You give and you receive trust. And one of the most important ingredients in a relationship of trust is that we speak truth. It matters what we say. What we mean. The value we place on our words—and what they are worth to others.
“We cannot solve our most intractable problems unless we are honest about what they are, unless we are willing to have difficult conversations and accept what facts make plain.
Kamala Harris, The Truths We Hold, c. 2020.
“We need to speak truth: that racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, and anti-Semitism are real in this country, and we need to confront those forces. We need to speak truth: that, with the exception of Native Americans, we all descend from people who weren’t born on our shores—whether our ancestors came to America willingly, with hopes of a prosperous future, or forcibly, on a slave ship, or desperately, to escape a harrowing past.”
Kamala’s words find a deep chord of response in many hearts. May we speak and enact truth.
Amanda Gorman, our National Poet Laureate delivered this stirring poem. She spoke of truth:
“And so we lift our gaze not to what stands between us, but what stands before us. We close the divide because we know to put our future first, we must first put our differences aside.
“We lay down our arms so we can reach out our arms to one another. We seek harm to none and harmony for all.
“Let the globe, if nothing else say, this is true. That even as we grieved, we grew. That even as we hurt, we hoped. That even as we tired, we tried. That we’ll forever be tied together victorious. Not because we will never, again, know defeat, but because we will never, again, sow division.”Amanda Gorman’s full inaugural poem “The Hill We Climb” is available online.
May we live up to her words and “never again sow division.” But for that, we must learn what it means to manage the truths we hold.
“’Then You are a king!’ Pilate said.
“‘You say that I am a king,’ Jesus answered. ‘For this reason I was born and have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to My voice.’
“‘What is truth?” Pilate asked. And having said this, he went out again to the Jews and told them, ‘I find no basis for a charge against Him'” (John 18:37-38).
Pilate asked his question rhetorically. But he stood face to face with the Truth, Himself.
Had Jesus answered Pilate’s question, what might He have said? “I Am?”
Or, would Jesus have pointed Pilate to his declaration of a greater and longer-lasting kingdom than Pilate’s? Would Jesus have spoken about life lived in an upside world where love conquers hate, humility precedes honor, and serving wins over lordship?
We are left with Jesus’ statement of His truth mission and Pilate’s doubt that truth exists. We are left with powerful words from our newly elected leaders, and are wondering whether truth will win the day through their lead. When we live in Pilate’s world, where the existence of truth is questioned, where so many demonize one another, it is clear we need stalwart adherence to how to live out truth in order for truth to make a difference.
I was texting with a dear friend and he wrote back, “The world put the Truth on the cross and killed him. Yet, He rose again. Don’t be afraid of those who would crucify truth. They have been shown to have no power over Jesus. Truth is stronger than death.”
What words. What a good reminder. Even lies cannot defeat Truth.
No matter what may come in this world of a pandemic and political divides, we share a common Truth — that of Jesus. The person of Jesus is Truth personal, tangible, accessible. No matter what comes, we have Jesus. Between disagreements over one viewpoint and another, we still have Jesus. Divided politically and socially distanced, we still have Jesus. He will empower us to never again sow division. He will help us “speak the truth” to injustices which must end.
Keep talking, friends, with those with whom you disagree and continue to learn what it is to walk in another’s shoes. Keep listening, friends, for you may find another can adjust your own viewpoints. I am back to only believing this Truth — Jesus has us and has this season.