What is Truth? Reflections 10-23-19

Texts for Reformation Sunday
October 24, 2019

Jeremiah 31:31–34
Psalm 46
Romans 3:19–28 
John 8:31–36

What is truth? 

In chapter 18 of John, Pontius Pilate asks that of Jesus just before he gives permission to have him killed. 

These days truth is not self-evident. Truth tends to be a personal understanding of something or someone. “Your truth is your truth, my truth is my truth, and that is the greater truth.”  “He said, she said.” “I shot him because I saw a gun”. Terrorists or Allies? Invaders or refugees? Climate change or normal weather variations?

The term gaslighting has been around since 1938; I’m sure the techniques have been around a lot longer than that.  It is a deliberate manipulation of a person or group to make them question their perceptions. “Using persistent denial, misdirection, contradiction, and lying, gaslighting involves attempts to destabilize the victim and delegitimize the victim's belief.” Nations do it, groups do it, individuals do it, media (and social media) do it. Notice the word “victim” in that description. Gaslighting is a form of abuse.

“Writing history belongs to the victor”. History as the truth belongs to the oppressor or colonizer. Our culture is slowly coming to the realization that our “history” only tells a part of the story, a part of the truth. And we are starting to hear the truth of the past from those we haven’t before – indigenous people, people of color, women, the GBTLQIA+ communities. Eventually, as Gloria Steinem said “The truth will set you free but first it will piss you off”.

At this moment, the truth about truth feels pretty discouraging.

In John 14, Jesus says I am the truth. That is a relationship, not a concept. And what truth is Jesus? You are loved no matter what. Jesus as truth is grace.

In the Gospel for today Jesus says that the truth makes you free - if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed
Free from what? asks the crowd. And Martin Luther. And us. 

Free from all the brokenness in the world that you, other individuals, or groups of people have brought about. Free from “truth” being used as a weapon as we work against wholeness for ourselves and others.

Free for what? asks Martin Luther. Free for acting on behalf of our neighbor. Fear, distrust, and greed are some of the broken responses to “the other” in our lives. Jesus as truth helps us to work through those barriers to really see and respond to each other.

The day of Reformation celebrates newness, or better, renewal. The word in which we continue brings inclusivity and wholeness. It is abundant grace as seen in Christ the crucified and resurrection. This truth brings amazing hope through amazing grace.

How to Find Us

Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Iowa City

Gathered by grace. Scattered for service.

123 E Market Street
Iowa City, IA 52245