Aldous Huxley, the 20th century British writer and novelist, once quipped, “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad.”
This, of course, is a take-off on Jesus’ words in John 8:32, where he says, “And you shall know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”
Generally less known is what he says right before this. In verse 21 it reads: “Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, ‘If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples.’” Only then does he talk about the truth making us free, or, as in other translations, setting us free.
Jesus’ comments are especially relevant as we enter the season of Lent. Lent is, after all, a time to reflect on the truth of God’s word and to assess how our lives conform to this same truth.
As Huxley’s witty phrase has it, this is not always a lot of fun. Hearing the truth is sometimes an offense. It upsets us. It can even make us angry (or mad). Why? Because sin has convinced us that we get to decide what is right and wrong, as well as what is acceptable conduct and behavior.
Martin Copenhaver, currently Dean of Andover Newton Theological Seminary, writes in his Christian primer, To Begin at the Beginning, that his idea of hell is when, after we die, we are placed in a room with countless witnesses and a movie of our lives is shown.
With each passing frame, all can see clearly our less than stellar moments, and they ask us, “You did this?” or “You said that?” Such, he suggests, may very well be a tad uncomfortable!
This is perhaps another way of saying that one day we all shall see our lives as God sees them! In some ways that will be great, but in other instances perhaps not so much.
When confronted with things we don’t like about ourselves, the natural tendency is to react, deny, and perhaps even lash out. Yet, we’re told, God is an ever-merciful God who wishes more than anything for God’s children to repent, that is, to acknowledge their errors and resolve to change.
It is akin to a father or mother who observes his or her child misbehaving. Nothing gladdens the heart of a parent more than seeing that same child come forward and say he or she is sorry. Joyous forgiveness, followed by hugs and kisses, is the typical end result.
Lent is a time for us to respond to God’s gracious invitation for us to repent, to acknowledge those thoughts, words, and deeds which separate us unnecessarily from God and others. The intended result, again, is joy!
Holding to the truth, however, can be difficult. There are many temptations, both internally and externally, that prevent us from adhering to God’s word, God’s truth. Yet the one thing we should always seek to do is precisely this, to hold onto the truth. For ultimately, we know, truth will be vindicated.
That may mean periods of discomfort, or doubt, discouragement, or even persecution. But we Christians are not running a short sprint, but a long race. As such, our eyes are always set on the prize – God’s glory – even when it appears far away.
During this Lenten season, therefore, let us be steadfast and immovable, full of resolve, trusting in God’s promises, God’s word, God’s truth, and knowing, ultimately, that in the end it shall set us free.
Grace and peace,
Thomas C. Leinbach, Pastor