By Gerald L. Borchert, Ph.D., Emeritus Professor
Robert E. Webber Institute for Worship Studies
Truth is best embodied in Jesus.
As Bob Webber would often give advice to the IWS family and Kent Walters continues to send excerpts of Bob’s writings each week, I am sending this message to the community because of a deep concern I have related to events that are occurring. Please consider this message as a personal bit of advice from an octogenarian IWS member who is concerned about our witness and patterns of living.
As I was departing from Alberta, Canada to study for the ministry in the United States, my pastor gave me a solid bit of advice that has stayed with me. “Remember as you seek God’s will, Jerry, TRUTH wears no labels. It is neither liberal nor conservative. Truth is truth. Commit yourself to truth!” I would add to that advice that “Truth is best embodied in Jesus, the Christ.”
What is truth?
Our world is in a turmoil concerning truth! The scoff of Pilate to Jesus, “What is truth?” still is very pertinent. Our American politicians on both sides are manipulating truth and using it for their own purposes so that it is difficult to learn the truth. But when you embody truth in the person of Jesus, the issue becomes a little clearer because truth is completely moral! Morality is what is being sacrificed today in the subtle name of truth. The conservative denomination of which I have been a part for years has played loose with moral, sexual and economic standards in the name of defending the truth. But the morality of Jesus would counter such use of “truth.”
What is crucial for all of us to learn is that our commitments to words, laws, ideas and theological understandings can be harsh or actually deviant without the direction of the Holy Spirit and the model of Jesus. We often think we have the TRUTH and we will stand for it, or die for it. But in so doing, we do not usually have the mind and Spirit of Jesus as we forcefully pursue our own understandings of “truth.” When Jesus said, “Know the truth and the truth will set you free,” he did not mean know facts, laws, or slogans. He meant KNOW JESUS who is the embodiment of truth!
Do not settle for anything less than the model of Jesus.
Dear friends, commit yourself to Jesus, not to words, slogans, laws or mere ideas. Let Jesus in the Holy Spirit be your constant companion and let that Spirit transform and guide you, even if those around you think that your focus should be upon ideas, rules and slogans. You were bought by Jesus at a huge cost, let your life then glorify God in the model of Christ and do not settle for anything less than that model of Jesus.
I pray for you as you worship and serve a LIVING JESUS whom you meet in your reading of the Bible, in your fellowship at the Table, in your singing and praying, in your witnessing for our Lord, and in following the divine guidance as you lead others into richer experiences of worship and service.