The truth hurts. How true that statement is at times. Honestly facing our own sinfulness or failures can leave us feeling embarrassed or ashamed. It hurts to look around at the world and acknowledge the terrible pain people inflict upon others. The prophet Jeremiah was hated because the people did not want to hear the truth about their bad behaviors (Jeremiah 38:4-10). In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus points out the painful consequences of facing the truth when he says, “I have come to light a fire on the earth (Luke 12:49-53).” The fire he came to light was the fire of a sinful humanity facing into its own destructive behaviors and being willing to change. This was the purifying fire of the truth that hurts. The purifying fire of exchanging self-centeredness for self-giving, greed for generosity, hate for love, power over others for power with others.
Jesus knew that the consequence of replacing lies with the truth would be painful and would cause division among people. Division between those who are willing to change and those who continue on the path of their destructive ways. Who are we with? Those willing to speak the painful truth about our destructive behaviors or those who do not want to hear about it so the harm continues? What are some painful truths in our lives that we are not facing? Perhaps it is some kind of addiction. Maybe an out of control need to control and dominate others. Endless gossip that is damaging someone’s name. Misplaced anger that is being meted out to the people who are closest to us.
What are some painful truths about our world that we are refusing to acknowledge? The unequal distribution of the worlds goods that leaves the majority of humanity living in poverty. Systemic racism, sexism or prejudice that places whole segments of populations on the margins without access to gainful employment, education or health care. Unrelenting greed that will do anything to have more and more, blind to the human suffering that it causes those who receive substandard wages or who work in unhealthy and hazardous conditions.
Yes, sometimes the truth hurts. With our eyes fixed on Jesus, the truth also heals.
Together in faith,
The Very Rev. Christopher Smith, rector