“As a young man, John Chrysostom tried to be a desert monk, but he was deterred by poor health. So he decided to give his whole life to God in the city. He eventually became archbishop of Constantinople, but always insisted on a life of simplicity. John is remembered for his eloquence in preaching, especially against abuses of authority by both ecclesiastical and political leaders. After his death he was given the Greek surname Chrystostomos, meaning ‘golden-mouthed,’ because of his eloquence with words. In a time filled with so many words, John reminds us that words of truth have power to convict and transform.”
You and I may find ourselves in unfamiliar territory in these days of political and societal upheaval. What has been dependable may no longer be. What we know as truth may be being assaulted and skewed. But what we do know is what John knew, truth is the the light of the world, and it has the power to “convict and transform.” If we as followers of Jesus Christ are going to impact the world around us, we must also be adherents to the truth.
The truth is not always expedient or convenient, it causes us to assess what we think, what we feel, what we say, how we act. Some of our most closely held beliefs, those things which guide us, are also the hardest to confront if the truth reveals them to be antithetical to what it means to follow Jesus.
What we know of as truth in the life of Jesus comes from his words and his witness. Jesus. When speaking about how to treat those less advantaged than ourselves, Jesus calls us to do so with kindness and humility. For in these neighbors of ours, we will find God. Luke 4:17-19 says, “Jesus stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: ‘The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” This was truth for Jesus, and he was setting himself against those who would oppress others with their ideas, with the economy, with the forces of government, with any means that would profit themselves. The truth for Jesus was God created all of creation to be enjoyed and to benefit all who were created.
In Proverbs 14:31 we read, “He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.” To give you a statistic to contemplate, there are currently approximately 600,000 homeless persons in the U.S., but there are an estimated 2-3 housing units per adult person available. Do we have a housing crisis, or a greed crisis?
The truth would tell us we have the ability and resources to solve some of the worst ills plaguing our society. Do we have the will? The truth is we are all children created by God in God’s image. In order for us to claim to be Christian, Christ followers, we have to accept the truth that we are called to work to transform this world into the kingdom of God. We do that by being truth-tellers, and doing all we can to serve all in our midst.
“Lord Jesus, you taught us to pray. Now help us pray for our daily bread while laboring with love for those who hunger. Show us how to hallow your name while striving for justice in our relationships and in society. May our whole live become a prayer, ever to your glory. Amen.”
Your fellow traveler on the Way,