I wanted to write about something feel good, uplifting and funny. About how God tells us over and over again “do not be afraid”. How sometimes when you feel fear, something good is just over the horizon. Oh, and about the time my friends peer pressured me into zip-lining in my *ahem* 40’s and how much I loved it. Or about how I hate scary movies, but just to be fair I watch them with my family. I curl up with a quilt pulled up over my nose to right below my eyes so I can peer out, and a pillow just in case something pops out of the TV screen. After all, the pillow is the greatest weapon ever invented.
But… that’s not what God had in mind because He wants me to be honest. Right now I’m scared and fearful and it’s not the good kind. I’m scared because TRUTH seems to be elusive. Maybe it’s been this way for a long time and I just didn’t notice, or worse, I just didn’t care! Right now my eyes are open and I’m watching this terrible horror film called LIFE IN THESE UNITED STATES. As an adult I would be highly looked down upon if I carried a blanket around like Linus, a pillow at my side, just in case.
This must have been what the Civil War era was like. Brother against brother, North against South, man against woman, farming against industrialization, and, did I mention, Christian against Christian. Yes, Christian against Christian! Did I say that! (Steve Erkel’s voice) There was a lot of struggle, strife and loss, but finally, something good came of it.
Well, there are a lot of ways that, as a Christian, I should respond Biblically to what’s going on in the nation. The honest truth is that sometimes I don’t respond Biblically. Okay, okay, most of the time I don’t respond Biblically. I respond with judgment, criticism, and anger mixed with the occasional nausea, weeping and, yes, fear.
According to all sorts of worldly information, no one is telling the truth. The media is not telling the truth. The politicians and government are not telling the truth. Liberals are not telling the truth. Conservatives are not telling the truth. This type of Christian versus that type of Christian, not telling the truth. We confront each other on a regular basis with fact checking. We have these new terms called “secret science” and “alternative facts”. My mind is spinning. I don’t know how to respond and make sense of it all. Even worse, I’ll admit it, I’m finding it hard not to take it personally when I “deem” another Christian is not taking the same stance I am. I just want the truth and I want everyone else to have my same truth, too! Much like Tom Cruise in A Few Good Men, “I want the truth!” The scary answer back, “You can’t handle the truth!”
I’m not the first person to ask the question, “What is truth?” nor will I be the last. Pilate asked this same very question of Jesus in John 18:37-40.
“You are a king, then!” said Pilate. Jesus answered, “You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” “What is the truth?” Pilate asked. With this he went out again to the Jews and said, “I find no basis for a charge against him. But it is your custom for me to release to you one prisoner at the time of the Passover. Do you want me to release the ‘king of the Jews?’” They shouted back, “No not him! Give us Barabbas!” Now Barabbas had taken part in a rebellion.
Can you even imagine the fear in Jesus, in Mary, in the disciples, in Jesus’ followers? First of all, I’m not sure if Jesus felt fear, although my hubby reminded me that Jesus cried out on the cross, “My God, my God why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46) I’ve never been in that situation but I know for sure that Mary felt fear. How do I know? She’s a mother and I’m a mother. Mothers fear for their children. My guess is that if you are a parent, mother or father, at one point in time you’ve feared for your child. Even as I type these words tears flow freely down my cheeks. Nothing scares me more than my kids having to suffer. Sometimes their suffering comes from their own choices and sometimes it’s just because they were born into this sinful world.
So, here’s my deal with the rhetoric of the people of the United States, including myself. It scares me for my children. It scares me for your kids. It scares me for my family, friends, neighbors and the strangers I meet on a daily basis. It scares me because I’m so judgmental and angry! I’m an emotional mess and at any given point, mostly with Facebook posts or news updates, I could blow. This is my truth. You can call me angry, judgmental, weak minded, sappy, hormonal, insert any words you feel necessary. I confess all of that is probably part of my truth, too!
So, back to Jesus’ story. Pilate didn’t find fault with Jesus, it was the crowd that wanted Barabbas. Pilate was the government official but he was having no part of the Jesus issue. Instead, he asked the crowd to choose. People like me. Do I choose Barabbas or Jesus? Do I choose a rebel and murderer (Luke 23:19) or innocence and truth. Maybe what is making me fearful the most is when I examine my own heart. I know so many times as a flawed human, I’ve chosen rebellion and murder. It’s easier that way. I’m off the hook and I can cheer with the crowd, “Give us Barabbas!” Who am I to stand up and say, “Jesus is innocent and why should we hurt him?” I’d have to face all the mean, angry, judgmental, critical people just like myself. I mean, I don’t really want Jesus’ truth. I want my truth, what’s best for me!
Except, Jesus is testifying to the truth and God is the ultimate fact checker! And one day, we’re all going to be standing in front of God and this is going to happen:
He’s gonna divide us up on the left and right and ask: I was hungry, did you feed me? I was thirsty, did you give me a drink? I was a stranger, did you invite me in? I needed clothes, did you clothe me? I was sick, a prisoner, did you look after me? He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth whatever you did or didn’t do for one of the least of these, you did or did not do for me.’ Then they will go away to either eternal punishment or to eternal life. (paraphrased from Matthew 25:31-46)
It’s gonna be scary and it’s gonna be good! We’ll finally have the real truth and it’s going to be hard to handle! For now, I’m going to try really hard to not let my emotions get the best of me. I’m going to take a real long look at myself before I shout and go along with the crowd. I can look for the good. I can pray that Jesus gives me ears to hear His truth and not the secret science or alternative facts of this world!