John 16:12-15Â – Trinity Sunday (or) the First Sunday following Pentecost â€“ for Sunday, May 26, 2013
â€œWhen the Spirit of truth comes, s/he will guide you into all the truthâ€¦â€ (John 16:13)
Jesusâ€”so said Johnâ€™s Gospelâ€”spoke to his disciples about the Spirit of truth.
When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth . . .
According to my second-hand, hardbound, outdated Strongâ€™s Exhaustive Concordance, the word â€œtruthâ€ is used in the Bible (cautionâ€¦Strongâ€™s uses the King James Version) around 250 times. I apologize for the qualifying word â€œaround,â€ but Strongâ€™s print has gotten smaller as Iâ€™ve aged. An accurate count is a challenge.
Iâ€™m just telling the truth here. Remember, truth has a â€œuâ€ in the middle!
I could say, â€œTrust me.â€ Itâ€™s another word with â€œuâ€ in the middle, but the exhausting Strongâ€™s lists fewer Biblical variations of trust than truth, so trusting may not be as important as being truthful.
Thereâ€™s an inspiring, intimidating Sufi* saying (although a Facebook friendâ€”always a reliable sourceâ€”informed me the saying originated with Buddhists*) that goes like this . . .
Before you speak, let your words pass through three gates.
At the first gate, ask yourself, â€œIs it true?â€
At the second, ask, â€œIs it necessary?â€
At the third gate ask, â€œIs it kind?â€
Buddhist or Sufi, those three questions should cause me to keep my trap shut most of the time!
However Jack Nicholsonâ€™s Nathan Jessup, a Marine commandant in the 1992 film A Few Good Men, couldnâ€™t shout loud enough about truth in what is arguably the filmâ€™s best-known scene . . .
Jessup: I’ll answer the question. You want answers?
Kaffee: I think I’m entitled!
Jessup: You want answers?!
Kaffee: I want the truth!
Jessup: You can’t handle the truth! Son, we live in a world that has walls, and those walls have to be guarded by men with guns. Who’s gonna do it . . .
Iâ€™ll spoil the movie for the three people who havenâ€™t seen it and let you know that Jessup will be found guilty before the closing credits. His truth didnâ€™t hold up. His truth was distorted and self-serving.
But Colonel Jessup was merely a fictional character.
For Christâ€™s sake, what is truth? Is it factual and faithful? Is truth provable? Is truth the answer to whodunit, whothoutit or whosaidit?
And yet the problem with openly speaking and living out the truth Jesus demandedâ€”especially for we divisive, divided Christiansâ€”is that my truth may not be your truth.
Whatâ€™s your truth about same-gender marriage? How will you react when the Supreme Court announces a decision this coming June? Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. famously preached, â€œThe arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.â€ If the highest court in the land decrees more or less support for same-gender marriage, which way will Kingâ€™s arc swing . . . for you?
Letâ€™s be mundane. Is a so-called white lie ever okay?
â€œHoneybuns,â€ one beloved asks another, â€œdoes this new outfit make me look fat?â€
Will Honeybuns speak the truth?
I believe the truth Jesus promised will be most clearly revealed (or thwarted) within relationships.
Relationships between nations.
Relationships between religions.
Relationships between institutions.
Relationships between individuals.
I humbly suggest that the Spirit of truth beckonsâ€”never forcesâ€”us to be honest with the other. Iâ€™ll further, and foolishly, suggest there are several essential spirit-inviting questions to ask that may strengthen our relationships . . .
- What can I learn from you?
- How can I serve you?
- How can I help you grow?
What question would you add? What are your thoughts, beliefs and hopes about Jesusâ€™ â€œSpirit of truth?â€ How can I learn from you?
*I decided not to research whether or not the â€œthree gatesâ€ originally came from Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu, Jewish, Unitarian, BahÃ¡’Ã or Christian traditions. And I donâ€™t care if it can be attributed to Rumi, the renowned Sufi, or my neighbor across the street with a yappy dog. Where a â€œtruthâ€ begins is never as important as how it is lived and shared.