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Telling the Truth Matters
Reflecting on the Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost: Two Days after Sunday (Year C)
Psalter: Psalm 129
Old Testament: Jeremiah 39:1-18
Epistle: James 5:7-12
Psalter: Psalm 57
Old Testament: 1 Samuel 25:23-35
Epistle: James 5:7-12
Hear our prayers, God of power, and through the ministry of your Son free us from the grip of the tomb, that we may desire you as the fullness of life and proclaim your saving deeds to all the world. Amen.
Above all, brothers and sisters, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your “Yes” be yes and your “No” be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation (James 5:12).
It has been said that we live in a post-truth world. I think we need to be careful in concluding that our current generations care less about truth than generations past. Lack of concern for the truth has always been a problem. All one has to do is read through the Old and New Testaments to know this—people more willing to listen to false prophets than the ones God called, and sinful behavior that is always intimately connected to human unwillingness to embrace the truth.
The difference today is not in degree of rejecting the truth, but how easy it is for falsehoods to travel so quickly. The Internet, social media, and 24/7 cable news has put us on information overload with competing interpretations of what is right with cable news pundits just figuring out ways to make up things as they go, so as not to lose their audience who tunes in not interested in the truth per se, but in being confirmed in what what they already believe. The great tragedy of this is when Christians get caught up in it embracing lies and passing them off even as “gospel,” embracing as prophetic the peddlers of snake oil. Theologian and ethicist Stanley Hauerwas states that the one thing the church owes the world is to tell the truth, whether it is gladly received or not.
Discerning and embracing the truth is a character issue for Jesus. James the Lord’s brother quotes his sibling and Savior from the Sermon on the Mount. When it comes to truth be the kind of person that everyone knows that one’s speech can be trusted. When the response is yes, be a person of character that the hearers have no doubt the answer is yes. The same must be true when the response is no. We must live in the way of Jesus that what we say does not require an oath, swearing on the Bible, or signing an affidavit. As the old adage goes, “Our word is our bond.”
In a world where truth seems to be in short supply, Christians must be truth-tellers in all things. After all, we follow someone who told us he was the Truth (John 14:6).
PRAYER: God of salvation, who sent your Son to seek out and save what is lost, hear our prayers on behalf of those who are lost in our day, receiving these petitions and thanksgivings with your unending compassion.
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