Only Truth Sets Us Free…Even When We Don’t Like It!

It’s right there in scripture. Jesus said, “You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” (John 8:32)

But sometimes, I don’t want to hear the truth because I really don’t like it!

In 2019, when the neurologist told me to go to the hospital for 15 days of plasmapheresis, it was truth I didn’t want to hear. But when she told me I could choose to go to the hospital or risk losing the use of my legs, I realized it was the truth I didn’t like that could make me whole.

A shockingly significant number of our citizens evidently don’t want the truth. Facts don’t matter. (I recommend historian John Meacham’s podcast, “The Fate of Fact.” ) They prefer irrational, unscientific, anti-historical distortions or already disproven lies that protect them from dealing with facts they don’t like. Two recent examples.

The Truth About QAnon

Last week United Methodists in Florida met online for our Annual Conference. On the agenda was a resolution calling us to “denounce the QAnon movement as anti-Christian, and against the values inherent in the United Methodist Social Principles and … [to] encourage our clergy to preach to and teach their congregations about the dangers of the QAnon Movement’s teachings, which have no place in the Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church or in our Nation.

The resolution was approved, but I was shocked and saddened when 43% of the members of our Conference voted against it.

Good folks might have good reasons for voting against it. Some simply don’t like resolutions. But I wondered, What have we been teaching and preaching in our churches? What Bible are we reading? Have we read the Constitution? Do we realize the increasing violence in this movement? Why was this truth that some faithful folks didn’t what to hear?

The Truth About Racism

The same Conference voted on a resolution on “White Responsibility and Accountability in Dismantling Racism.” (You can read the complete text of both resolutions at Conference Workbook, p. 196 and p. 203-208.) It called white United Methodists “who benefit from white privilege to acknowledge and repent of the ways they have abused their privilege and power, so that all might rediscover their calling to be ambassadors of reconciliation and peace, living more faithfully with all God’s children into God’s Beloved Community.”

That resolution passed with 61%, which meant that 39% of our brothers and sisters voted against it. Some folks said they affirmed the intent, but were uncomfortable with the language. But there’s truth there that we white folks don’t like to hear.

While the Conference was acting on that resolution, Florida’s Governor and Commission on Education were approving new rules banning so-called “critical race theory”, although there’s no evidence that it is being taught in our public schools while private schools are free to teach any white-washed or Christianized version of American history they might choose.

Supporters of the rule said it will prevent students from learning history that might “denigrate the Founding Fathers.” But it’s not denigrating our Founders to tell the truth: while they lifted the ideal that we are all “endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights,” those “inalienable rights” were not Constitutionally available for women, Native Americans, or Black people in slavery.

Abigail Adams asked the Continental Congress to “remember the ladies,” but our Founders were white men of their time, influenced by the Enlightenment, who believed in reason and truth. Along with their vision, they left us a rational, non-violent, democratic, Constitutional process by which to build “a more perfect union.”

The Truth that Sets Us Free

Confronting the painful truth of our past and the ongoing influence of systemic racism in our lives today (read Caste by Isabel Wilkerson) is our only way to the freedom our Founders envisioned. In the same way, the only sin that can be redeemed is sin that is confessed. Only the truth can set us free.

Jesus spoke those words during a debate with “the Jews who had believed in him” about their Founding Father. (John 8:39-59) Jesus affirmed Abraham, but he called his followers to “be doing what Abraham did” (8:39) in following God’s call. He said, “Your ancestor Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day; he saw it and was glad.” (8:55-56).

I want to believe that our Founders would be glad to see the way we continue to work in our own day to fulfill the ever-expanding vision they lifted for us.

And here’s the promise, “If the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed!” (8:36)

Grace and peace,

Jim

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13 thoughts on “Only Truth Sets Us Free…Even When We Don’t Like It!

  1. Dang, Jim…miss you tons! Prayers for your recovery.

    1. James: Miss you, too! I’ve edited the blog to be clear that the trip to the hospital was in 2019. The treatment was effective and I’m doing well with a few lingering issues. Thanks fo your concern!

  2. We have so so far to go; if the problem had been the wording it seems that could have been worked out. Sigh. Lfw

    Sent from my iPad

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  3. Carolyn Linder June 16, 2021 — 4:01 pm

    Thank you again and again for being the voice of reason and Christianity. It is amazing that anyone at the conference would vote against those items. I look to your posts for clarity and about some of these new movements and the United Methodist’s position on them. Thanks again!

  4. Warren Stewart June 16, 2021 — 4:53 pm

    very good .thanks much.now reading Caste. a great read.

  5. With respect to the QAnon topic, I don’t have a handy answer, at least not one I believe I could successfully defend. On the Racism topic, I believe some people find the statement “…so that all might rediscover their calling to be ambassadors of reconciliation and peace, living more faithfully with all God’s children into God’s Beloved Community.” as going beyond the scope of Racism into being more inclusive than they find comfortable. The word “all” eliminates a lot of hiding places.

  6. Jim, Love your messages. They speak a truth that we all need to hear. Caste is a must read.
    So glad your procedure worked well!
    Bill B

    1. Bill, Good to be connected with you again!

  7. Thanks for continuing to be the voice of reason for the rest of us. It’s difficult for me to believe that people who call themselves Christians can deny the truth as taught by Jesus. As an aside, pleas change the color o and size of this portion of your site. Some of us are getting old.

  8. Jim,
    It’s such a gift to read your analysis and the concise way you’re able to cut through the noise.
    Stay well,
    Julian

  9. Ohhhh, Jim! If you’re shaking your head about the number of your fellow good Methodists and their reaction or non-reaction to QAnon, let me share my situation.

    When Dennis and I had to step in and co-parent my disabled son’s 5-year-old daughter, Emily, we joined Anastasia Baptist Church here as they had a multi-faceted children’s ministry. To our delight, the minister, Ron Moore, turned out to be one of the most Godly men I’ve ever known. Those were happy years. Emily grew up, Ron Moore retired, and then Dennis died. I transferred my membership to the smaller Crescent Beach Baptist where I had many friends I’d grown up with. I found it to be a welcoming, wonderful group of committed Christians with many ministries and a beloved pastor, David Beauchamp. We are great buddies.

    I think back on the days when storm clouds first rumbled. Talk of Donald Trump maybe running for President. My incredulity that any Christian could even consider this person who represented everything that Jesus was not. Fast forward to the deal with the devil that Evangelicals made. I’m talking about my friends and family members willing to look away from the history of this imposter who promised to protect and defend religious freedom. Shades of Hitler! And then the agony of his MAGA spewings, Covid deaths, threats to our freedom of the press, loss of our allies, etc. etc. etc. And yet millions continued to support him. My friends, family. . . even my angel sister whom we have always called Saint Barbara with her undeniable faith and women’s prison ministry. . .I am surrounded. I don’t like cliches, but they unbelievably drank the Kool-Aid.

    Now we have hard-core Trumpers and QAnon with our churches, our families, and our country being ripped apart. I fear for President Biden, and am disappointed at this point in Kamala Harris.

    At the grand old age of eighty-four, one positive is that it’s made me spend more time in the Scriptures. Having health issues, prayer is my only weapon with what I see as true evil in our world. Satan is tap-dancing all over the place. So God bless you for remaining in the trenches.

    Jeremiah 7: 28 is a pretty scary read, but sums up so much of what I see. “Truth has perished and has been cut off from their mouth.” It doesn’t matter which side of the aisle; perception is reality.

    God help us.

    Love and Peace,

    Jeannine

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    1. Thanks for this painful response. These have been difficult years with more than enough reasons to be discouraged. Scholar, friend and colleague posted a reflection today that gave me hope in the midst of it all. I hope it’s helpful for you as it is for me: https://oboedire.wordpress.com/?fbclid=IwAR2JhOTe9eev46PI0krkSoYP1lzJQTinmOpw1NEW4W9aVbcIacJOffjBX9Y/.

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