Sunday, I mentioned how unusual the prophets can be. Their words can be hard to swallow, and their actions even more so. But why should we be surprised? For that’s how truth often is: hard to hear, and even harder to swallow.
Barbara Brown Taylor tells the story of being at a retreat once where the leader asked them to think of someone who represented Christ in their lives. When it came time to share our answers, one woman stood up and said, “I had to think hard about that one. I kept thinking, Who is it who told me the truth about myself so clearly that I wanted to kill him for it?”
If the prophets in the Old Testament weren’t treated well for speaking the truth, how much less was Jesus? For was there ever a more truth-filled, truth-telling, truth-living person than Jesus?
And the truth is, the truth from Jesus went down hard. And so everyone came down hard on Jesus. The political powers. The religious powers. The crowd. Even Jesus’ best friend was willing to swear off Jesus rather than face the consequences of telling too much truth.
As Jack Nicholson famously said, You can’t handle the truth! He may have been speaking in a movie, and he may have been speaking to Tom Cruise — but he might as well have been speaking to all of us. For who of us can really handle the truth?
But the truth is: without the truth, how do we know the truth about ourselves? For while we often run from truth, the reality is: we should run toward the truth. It is the truth, Jesus famously said, that sets us free. It is the truth about my life, and what I’ve done, and what I’ve become, that opens the door to the grace that takes me beyond what I’ve done, and helps me become what only God can lead me to become.
So, in a world that continuously redefines, waters down, or avoids truth, give it to me straight. I may not want it, I may not like it, and it may be hard to swallow — but without the truth, how will I ever get free?