|Lovers of Truth
Copyright 2003 William G. Meisheid 10-16-03 ›
A challenge to my essay Who are We? said "I donít think you can support jumping from the truth of Jesus saying ďagapeĒ one another, to ďagape-ing the truthĒ. I think youíre being too clever for your own good." In essence the person challenged my biblical justification for linking love and truth. Fair enough.
My main premise in the essay was that one of the marks of a Christian is their love of the truth. I went further and said "Our self-sacrificial love of the truth will lead us to embrace Godís truth and repent of error as we define our Christian walk over the coming months." The comings months referred to the period in which the ongoing debate over the actions of the Episcopal General Convention of ordaining a practicing homosexual as Bishop will work itself to some sort of conclusion.
There are two primary scriptures that can be used as the biblical background for my position. The first, 2 Thessalonians 2:10, speaks directly to my argument. "...and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved." Love in that verse is the Greek agape or self-sacrificial love defined for us by the Father and the Son on the cross of Calvary. Because they refuse (an active conscious action) to love (agape) the truth (Jesus Christ and his word and commands), they perish (are consigned to hell).
Isn't that what the Bishops and those who follow them in the Episcopal Church are doing when they throw out the historical truth of bible in favor of the current sociological or political correctness and lead others to follow them? Be it abortion or normalizing biblically condemned sexual behavior, they do not take these actions in defense of the biblical norm, but against it or in spite of it. They let their desires and actions pass judgment on biblical truth and redefine it as it suits the current fashion. Where is the love (agape) of truth in that? How can substituting our wisdom for God's wisdom be deemed loving God's truth? Paul reminds us in Philippians 1:9-11 "Öit is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God." As Paul says, love must grow, but its growth must be constrained by knowledge and discernment. Love is not emotionally driven and out of control, since the love Paul is talking about is agape (self-sacrificial) love, a love that expresses itself in choices that convey charity and loving kindness, especially to those undeserving of it. We must be on our guard however, because compassionate love is always susceptible to stretching the bounds, sometime a little and sometimes a lot, to offer solace to those in pain. Unchecked over time by the constraints Paul places on it, this distortion of love can totally obliterate the former boundaries with dire and eternal consequences.
During the drug infested times of the late 60's and 70's we learned the hard way that unconditional love can degenerate quickly into license and a new expression of tough love was born out of the effort not to be enablers, even in attempts to alleviate suffering. The same thing applies to the current situation in the Church. A tough love of biblical truth and its firm but compassionate application to the social, moral, and ethical decisions we face today is the only way to avoid being enablers of sin and its ensuing degradation, which quickly infects not only individual lives, but the whole of society, including the Church.
My second supporting passage comes from Zechariah 8:19, which I think is especially relevant, since it is a direct command from God. "People of Judah, I, the LORD, demand that whenever you go without food as a way of worshiping me, it should become a time of celebration. No matter if it's the fourth month, the fifth month, the seventh month, or the tenth month, you should have a joyful festival. So love truth and live at peace." I want to repeat that, love truth. God, through the prophet Zechariah commands Israel and through them the whole of the people of God, which includes the Christian Church, to love truth. While it is accurate to say that this is the only time God makes such a direct statement about the broad concept of truth, He has throughout the whole of scripture been leading up to this point when He commanded Israel to love the visible expressions of truth, His law and commandments. The Old Testament is not normally given over to broad, almost philosophical statements such as love the truth. However, with Zechariah being either the last or next to last Old Testament book written, (Malachi could have come before or after, though traditionally it is placed after.) it makes for a nice summation of a general biblical principal.
Combining both thoughts God commands us to love the truth, which in the New Testament would include not only the law, and every word that has proceeded from the mouth of God, but also His Son, Jesus Christ who told the world that he was 'the way, the truth, and the life" and the only path to the Father. Jesus also told us if that if we loved him we would keep his commandments, the expression of his truth in concrete terms. We are then warned that unless we love the truth we are in serious danger of perishing eternally, since only by loving the truth can we guard our hearts and minds against deluding ourselves into believing a lie and perish from the consequences.
In closing, I want to say that the foremost concern of my life has been to apprehend the truth. I do not want to be like Pilate, and many people today, even those in positions of leadership inside the Church, and make smug condescensions to Jesus' demand to embrace the truth through him and his word. No, I know what the truth is, and He will indeed set me free. I pray He will set you free also.