Lesson 12: Truth and Love (Part 3)

The Empty TombIf the history of humanity is read as the search for truth, and if that search involves making common sense of the kaleidoscope of sensory data that constantly bombards us, and if making common sense involves coming to agreement on not only fact but also the meaning and purpose of those facts, and if our society refuses to discuss what is even fact, we have good reason to fear for our children. From a Christian perspective evil has always been based on self-serving lies. It seems quite natural that the rise of tyrants around the world goes hand in hand with the denial of truth.

Many believe all we have to do to regain our humanity is to respect the findings of science. They think the way back involves accepting the facts of life. While acknowledging the wonderful benefits bestowed on us from using the scientific method, I think we have to recognize that reducing truth to fact alone has been a significant part of our descent. When we stopped conversing about the meaning and purpose of facts, we gave up a significant part of the quest that has made us who we are.

The Christian search for truth begins with Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. It goes far beyond the historical fact about finding the tomb of an executed man empty. That simply reports an event that happened 2000 years ago. It has absolutely no relevance for our life here and now.

The real search involves the ongoing conversation about the meaning and purpose of those historical events. One of the many messages that we need to hear in our day involves the conflict between the truth claims of power and love that takes place in the Cross and Resurrection.

Christians proclaim that the Cross is the ultimate act of God’s love. The Divine completely empties self in forgiveness, forever defining both God and love. The gospels place this act in a context that unveils its meaning. Jesus is executed for living and teaching that love overcomes violence by returning good for evil, caring for all people, healing the sick and injured, and forgiving sin. He refuses to use weapons in his own defense, saying that those who draw the sword die by the sword. He rejects Pilate’s ability to silence him by execution. Every claim that that violence is the way to peace is challenged.

Among other things Jesus’ resurrection affirms the truth claim of love that Jesus practiced and taught in his life and death. In many of the resurrection appearances the first thing the Christ does is offer the peace that comes from forgiving love. Repeatedly the Bible lists the Power of the Keys as the first gift Jesus grants to his followers. They are to forgive sins just as he did by living redemptive lives that are characterized by giving, sharing, and healing.

As Derek indicated in his comment last week, living by the truth of love in this violent world is really tough. It might be easy to understand that anyone threatening another society with the nuclear option is deluding himself if he thinks he speaks for Christ’s love. It is far more difficult to decide what is truly loving in many of the complex situations confronting us in everyday life and, as Derek observes, even harder to find the courage to act in love once we have it figured out. Now more than ever, we need Christians coming together to converse about the meaning and purpose of the Cross and Resurrection.

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