I like truth, but in a safe, quiet way. To turn it over in my mind, talk about it with friends who agree, and to pat myself on the back for believing the right things. This type of truth isn’t difficult. I tend to steer clear of speaking truths when I know there will be dissension. And with students I don’t think I’ve ever really called them out to look at the truth in their lives – to examine how they spend their time, to challenge their thinking. As with so many other people, I want to be liked.
As I look at life as pilgrimage I can easily fall into the trap of just allowing people to go off and learn on their own. It’s their journey. They will eventually reach their destination. However, as pilgrims journeyed to sacred sites in the Middle Ages, knights along the way shared warnings about thieves ahead, priests and monks invited travelers to come off the road and rest, and fellow pilgrims sharpened each other’s views of God’s Word. As faith ancestors of the elect exiles to whom Peter wrote his first letter and of Christian pilgrims over the centuries, we really should do no less with others on – and soon to be on – this journey of following Jesus.
Often I’m leery of the truth telling because I may be wrong. Who am I to tell anyone about their lives? Do I really believe God’s Word fully? Do I really love Christ enough? Do I sit at the cross? At the cross. This may be the best place from which to tell the truth – in a posture of knowing my place as fully dependent on Christ for forgiveness and life. The ultimate story Christians are journeying toward is wrapped up in God’s perfect mercy and justice that came together at the cross. It’s not a safe place. But the truth here gives amazing life.
Oh, I think that not nearly enough truth telling happens in American society. Everyone is told to find his own way, and nobody feels comfortable telling someone else what to do. But so often in my own life I’ve found that I am not necessarily able to see my situation as clearly as the people around me can see it. I’m as scared as anyone at the idea of offering someone else direction or nudging. But I wish it happened more often.