Before the Truth Is Finished
“You will know the truth,” Jesus said, “and the truth will make you free” (John 8:32).
“The truth will set you free,” David Foster Wallace wrote, “but not until it’s finished with you.”
Before the truth is finished with us, it demands that we admit that we are not already free. We are enslaved to sin. This is the part of the truth that Luther called the law: the hard part that points out that we are controlled by our fears and desires, our self-absorption and self-doubt, our addictions and facades.
Here’s the truth: You are not your Sunday best or your Facebook profile. You are broken, and enslaved by your attempts to cover it up. That can be hard to hear, but until it sinks in we are unable to be released and receive the truth of the gospel, the good news of grace.
Today we celebrate Reformation Day, and in the spirit of Martin Luther the church must be always reforming, always pointing beyond itself to God’s grace. The temptation is always there to settle for so little: a cozy collective of our most presentable selves, the right side of social issues, pat answers to incomprehensible mysteries of the universe.
Jesus’ invitation is to bring the mess that we’re in, the mess that we are. We are called to show up as our true selves, fears and regrets and doubts and all. God can handle it. The communion of saints—that is, us, the people of God—can handle it. You are loved. You are forgiven. You are free.
The truth of God that sets us free first tears us open. Church can and must be a place where we bring our broken-open selves and encounter the healing power of a God who sees us, knows us, loves us as we are, and sets us free.