“The Truth Will Make You Free!”
This may be the truth, but it can also make you pretty blasted mad. Just ask Martin Luther about what happened when he spoke the truth 500 years ago. Some people interpreted “truth” and went crazy thinking they could do whatever they wanted in rebellion. Others got pretty blasted mad, excommunicated Luther, and tried to put an end to him. Others got it and stepped into the freedom the truth brings. They moved into a whole new way of being faithful, living in the grace of God, and standing against unhealthy theology and spiritual practices.
Truth is, the truth can be dangerous, it can make people uncomfortable, or it can free them. I have a friend who was leaving a hotel room when one of the housekeepers appeared. He proceeded to engage her in conversation about the day, the room, and other necessary things, but she never responded or said a word. He left the room thinking how rude and inconsiderate she was, and thought about reporting her to the management. As he continued his departure and was exiting the lobby, he noticed that same house keeper in a corner of the lobby communicating in sign language with a fellow worker or manager. The experience caught him up short when he realized his quick judgment, impatience, and assumptions had misled him. The truth freed him and reminded him that we don’t always see the whole truth before we jump to conclusions.
You are aware that I have been experiencing grief over an extended period of time during the last couple of years. This has been an interesting experience which has helped me to see truth related to grief differently, and I have begun to speak what I believe is some of the truth we fail to see when we are grieving. For instance, in our grief it is not uncommon to feel, even to believe, that those around us have broken their promise to remain loyal. They have deserted us, and not been as attentive as they promised. Many people express this, and I myself have felt it. When I experienced it, I felt sorry for myself, and criticized them.
Now, a new truth for me: I believe the reality is that grief is so overwhelming, so devastating in its loneliness and emptiness that the care, encouragement, and support of friends cannot compensate for our loss. Perhaps then, it is unfair of me to expect that of them. Their support and effort will not ever fill in the hole and the emptiness we feel. Unfortunately, this takes painful time, which I cannot hurry. Of course there are exceptions, and the truth is, there are those who profess loyalty or who we believe to be loyal but they are not.
Truth is, the scripture speaks lots of truth. Some of it I love: Isaiah 43:1b “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are mine.”
Some of it seems illogical: Romans 12:14 “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.”
Some of it I resist: I Corinthians 14:34ff “Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission as the Law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.” Some of it is very hard: Matthew 16:24 “If anyone would come after me, they must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” Some of it is difficult to grasp: Psalm 23: 4 “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff they comfort me.”
Truth is, as I moved through the “valley of the shadow” after my wife died, the reality of that promise sometimes escaped me. I could confess it, but I had trouble believing it. I felt more like Jesus on the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” It makes sense to me that if I can feel abandoned by God, the fact that I feel abandoned by friends is a whole lot easier to grasp.
Here’s another truth that we can stand on, as did Luther in all these things. It’s found in Mark 9:24, “Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, ‘I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!’”
Remember this, “the truth will make you free,” but it will also challenge you, put you off, confuse you, bless you, relieve you, and benefit others as you are grasped by its grace and surrounded by its love and promise.