Can’t Handle the Truth

Posted: January 7, 2010 in Uncategorized

On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

“What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”

He answered: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.”

“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

Luke 10:25-29

What was this expert in the law really after?  The Bible gives us insight into his motives.  He wants to “test” Jesus and “justify” himself.  First, he is looking for a reason to discredit Jesus’ authority.  He is hoping to trip Jesus up and make Him look bad.  Secondly, the expert is looking to find the loophole in the law to make himself look good.  I could blast this guy for a few paragraphs and sure it would probably seem well deserved, but really, am I any better than him? When faced with brutal reality I am not unlike this expert.  We all go to great lengths to see ourselves in best light possible.  With our fragile self-esteems we tend to shy away from confrontation, particularly when it exposes our weaknesses, frailty, or flaws.  I am really good at portraying myself as the “good guy” in every scene of my life.   Let’s say I have an argument with my wife.  I find myself working hard to find the reasons that she is wrong and I am right.  What if the argument centers on something I said that I would do but did not do?  An open and shut case it would seem.  Unless I can spread a shadow of doubt.  I start finding good excuses why I haven’t gotten to it yet.  Why that particular task was moved down on my priority list.  I know in my heart that I really intended to do it when I promised I would.  Sure my internal dialogue tells me that I was going to get to it soon, but what is the reality?  I made a promise to wife, whom I love and I did not follow through.  Reality really bites!  The truth can be a severely sobering buzz killer.  It pulls us kicking and screaming out of the intoxicating, delusional existence we live most of our lives in.   Sometimes the truth confronts us gently us like the ripping the sheets off our toasty toes when it is time to wake up.  Sometimes the truth hits us like turn four at Daytona Motor Speedway.  Funny how the concrete walls of truth do not move even though we are carrying 180 mph of momentum in our own direction.  Just like this expert in the law,  we know just enough to make us dangerous.  We know enough to make our own attempts at discounting the message of Jesus.   “He spoke in a different time to different people.  Surely we cannot take Jesus so literally in the context of today’s culture.” We know just enough to reinforce our arguments of self-justification.  We can make them sound great, so good that sometimes other people are convinced by our crafty persuasion.   “Jesus was using figurative language to illustrate His point.  What He really meant was (inset your own opinion here) not what He actually said.”   Well, it all sounds good.  In fact a lot of scholarly trends and religious institutions have been built on one or both of these tendencies: discounting Jesus or justifying our own ideas.  But neither of these tendencies takes seriously in to account the real Jesus and what He really said.  If He is who He says He is, then we have a choice to make, “Will we deal with the truth or not?”  The truth maybe hard to swallow but it is better than living in a lie.  I think this is why the Bible does not seem to distinguish a difference between faith and action.   You see this in passage after passage, if you believe the truth about Jesus you will live differently.    Genuine faith results in action.  If you believe Jesus is truly the Son of God, you have to take what He says seriously.  We have to recognize our tendencies to discount His character or reinterpret His words to ease our ways of life.  We have to be brutal in this endeavor because our broken, fallen natures are brilliant!  They are crafty!  They will misguide ourselves and painfully, sometimes those who respect us.  Carefully we should strip away what our culture has taught us about Jesus.  We should dismantle our preconceptions and images of the person we think He is.   Doing our very best to remove these blinders and filters we should strive to encounter the Jesus revealed in Scripture and take His words at face value.  This kind of deprogramming is tough for those who have seen hundreds of Sunday school images and heard thousands of personal interpretations of who Jesus is.   Sure this is dangerous ground to tread, but my prayer is always that the Holy Spirit, the counselor, will guide my mind to find the truth in His words.

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