Thursday, August 30, 2012

Truth Be Told (Part 2)

This is the second in a series on the idea of telling the truth.
I am naturally introverted, a generally reserved person. Still, that's no excuse for putting on my mask especially with the people who love me.  As much as I would like to hide myself sometimes it's impossible. My husband is my opposite in so many ways; one of the most honest people I know, he is forthright, direct and unafraid.  My husband frequently sees right though me and he doesn't hesitate to tell me the truth about myself.  It's one of the reasons I love him, and one of the ways the Holy Spirit convicts me. 

Sitting by the well, Jesus says something simple to the Samaritan woman, "Go call your husband and come here" (John 4:16).  This is the climax of a conversation that has been played out on two levels.  On the one hand the woman is talking about ordinary water and Jacob's well.  Jesus on the other hand is talking about the water of life. Faced with this direct statement the woman is unwilling to divulge her sordid past and responds, "I have no husband" (John 4:17). Jesus is nobody's sucker.  He looks at her and tells her the truth-she has had five husbands and is living now with a man she isn't married to. 

Her next strategy, since Jesus can apparently see right through her, is to distract and exasperate him.  She pulls out this old question, something people have been arguing over since the days of Rehoboam.  "Where are we supposed to worship?" (John 4:19-20)  In a conversation filled with non sequitur, this is one of the best one. Do you think, when she got up this morning, looked over at the man she wasn't married to, and put off going to get her water, this was the question burning in her heart?  I don't think so!  As one dissembler to another, I recognize the technique.  

This however, is the question Jesus decides to answer directly.  It gets to the heart of what he wants her to understand.  The Christ is coming and everything will change.  It will change her and it will change worship.  The worshipers who are coming will not worship on a mountain or in Jerusalem, they will worship in spirit and in truth.  (John 4:19-26)

I heard a lot of sermons on that phrase: "in spirit and in truth" but I wonder if in context he isn't speaking to her directly.  Jesus says, "But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers." (John 4:23) I am struck by these words. Standing there in front of her, the Messiah says that God is seeking people who are willing and ready to worship in spirit and in truth. The nature of Christian worship is not tied to a temple, tabernacle or cathedral.  Rather the nature of Christian worship is tied to two things she is struggling with. She is certainly not prepared to be particularly truthful, nor is she living a life that reflects a godly spirit.  

When the disciples come back with lunch, she heads back to town.  When she arrives, she runs around telling everyone that she has met the Messiah.  The lady who is so disreputable that she is sneaks out to draw water at noon has become the village evangelist.  Her testimony is "He told me all the things that I have done."  It was the truth that Jesus told her that started changing things.  When we have to speak the truth in a loving way to people who are struggling, we are not often saying things they don't already know.  She had not forgotten that she had had five husbands and she was shacking up with number six.  When someone lovingly tells us a hurtful truth, it starts a process of change.  

As a girl, and a southern one at that, I want to be "nice."  Jesus wasn't too worried about nice.  He was worried about the truth. Truth is not only the beginning of change it is also the beginning of freedom.  Telling the truth, even when it is not nice is what Jesus did. (Not sure?  Check out Matthew 23) 

I have to choose everyday what kind of truth teller I will be.  I can chose like the woman at the well to tell the least truth possible.  I can isolate myself and like a child pretend to be invisible.  I can choose like Jesus to reveal myself.  He tells the her quite directly that he is the Messiah, something he only hints at most of the time.  I can chose like Jesus to kindly and honestly confront others instead of swallowing my words.

As I sit here preparing this post to go up on the blog I can think of two situations that I need to tell the truth about.  One I faced off with at the supper table.  I am frustrated with our daughters and I told them directly.  Thumbs up for me.  The other I am still not sure I am brave enough to deal with.  I've been putting it off for weeks.  Maybe I'll read the story of the Samaritan woman one more time and I'll remember that my Father wants worshipers who can worship in Spirit and in truth. - 


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