A circle of friends on pilgrimage for the love of God

The Cost of Truth

Christ Carrying the Cross by a follower of Hieronymus Bosch (1510-1535)
The cost of truth for the believer is giving up hate. Giving up despair. Giving up war. Giving up impatience. Giving up meanness. Giving up wickedness. Giving up treachery. Giving up abuse. Giving up ill-discipline. Giving up our selves, our souls, our bodies because Jesus Christ is Lord.

The Cost of Truth
Rev. Isaac Bradshaw
1 Kings 19:15–21, Psalm 16, Galatians 5:1, 13–25, Luke 9:51-62

In 1988, a scientist of no great importance outside of the tightly-held structures of the Soviet Union hanged himself in the stairway of his apartment complex. As investigators sifted through the left-behind detritus of a life lived to the service of the Soviet science and industrial communities. But just prior to his death, Valery Legasov, the chief investigator of the Chernobyl disaster, recorded a series of tapes that were then sent to other Soviet scientists detailing the specific failures of both Soviet government, policy and science that led to the disaster; failures that he had helped cover up to an international audience and his own scientific community. As Legasov quipped, “I did not lie to the international community… But I did not tell the truth either.”

These tapes sent shockwaves throughout the Soviet scientific community. Long controlled and obedient to the Soviet political system, Soviet scientists now began to question the failures of the system and those who led it. It would be overstating the case to say that the tapes circulated by Legasov led to the end ot he Soviet Union, it was one in a series of cracks and crevices that would lead to the end of the Iron Curtain. As the HBO miniseries dramatically asks, “What is the cost of lies?” At Chernobyl, it meant creating a 30 mile wide exclusion zone, uninhabitable by humans for the next 24,000 years. For the Soviet system, collapse. For Legasov, like so many of the liquidators involved in the disaster, it meant his life; he committed suicide two years and one day after the disaster.

Our Gospel today asks a similar, if inverted question: What is the cost of truth?

We have two somewhat competing stories from the gospel. In the first,

Jesus is rejected by Samaritans, because “he had set his face to Jerusalem.” In the second, a follower commits his life to following Jesus, but then warned about the cost – personal and familial – to following Jesus. We get the famous hand-wave… Let the dead bury their dead.

We should feel challenged by this passage, for no other reason that it cuts across the grain of so many of our assumptions and practices as Christians, and particularly American Christians. I took a look at the Amazon best seller list in the Christian category and if this gives us any look at what it is we arelooking for when we choose to follow Christ, as described by what we buy:

  1. The Five love Languages
  2. Not It In It To Win It – a book about the church not picking sides
  3. Recklessly Alive – a book about suicide prevention
  4. Freeing Jesus
  5. Crazy Joy
  6. Boundaries
  7. Living Untethered
  8. Decrees that Unlock Heaven’s Power
  9. Total Money Makeover
  10. Beyond Keto: Bum Fat, Heal Your Gut and Reverse Disease

Very little about letting the dead bury the dead. Or being mn out of town by your cousins!

We tend to think through following Jesus as some kind of reward, but here Jesus makes clear that to follow him means paying a price. We have a self-referential notion that following Jesus means making everything good and nothing bad. Rejection. Break up of family. Turning away from cultural and social obligations.

Further, even when we experience the consequences of truth, we tend to direct those consequences in a self-serving way… They hate me because I tell the truth we might cry! Well, maybe. Or maybe it’s because you’re being a jerk.

Last week, the Supreme Court issued a decision that appalled some, and was celebrated by others, but was timely shocking for everyone, when a ruling overturned the 50-year constitutional protection for elective abortion. The Anglican Church in North America confesses, and Fr Doug and are I are bound to that confession, that the Christian Church teaches that life is to be protected from conception to natural end of life. And so we rejoice in the opportunity we now have to extend that protection.

It would be wrong of us, however, to assert that this truth does not come at a cost. Already, our media reflects the concerns and anxieties of women seeking help or who find themselves in difficult and unplanned crises, of the effects of performative laws no one ever expected to be enforced, misapplied laws that limit the treatment of women’s health. As Christians embrace the truth of human life, we must also embrace the cost of this truth, and make sure we are the ones to pay it. We must be willing to ensure that no pregnancy can ever be thought of as a crisis; we must seek policy and structures in society that support women, children and families of all shapes and sizes; but most importantly, right now, we must weep with those who weep, cheer with those who cheer, and help those who need help. That, it seems to me, would be a truth that not only reflects a willingness to follow Jesus, but a willingness to part ways with those forces who seek only to win. To set our eyes on Jerusalem and not on a legislature.

Because at the end of the day, whenever we think we are speaking the truth, whenever we are weighing truth versus falsehood, the ultimate test isn’t how it makes us feel, but how it reflects the perfect nature of the Risen Christ: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. What is the fruit of truth? It is these things.

Our Gospel is this: that Jesus Christ is Lord. Nothing more. Nothing less. He alone carries the keys to life and death, he alone judges the comings and goings of creation. And the cost of truth for speaking that will be rejection and delay from those who love and care for the most; but ought to inspire the fruit of the spirit in ourselves. The cost of truth for the believer is giving up hate. Giving up despair. Giving up war. Giving up impatience. Giving up meanness. Giving up wickedness. Giving up treachery. Giving up abuse. Giving up ill-discipline. Giving up ourselves, our souls, our bodies because Jesus Christ is Lord.

Let us set our eyes on Jerusalem. Because the cost of lies… Is not worth paying.


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