One of my favourite Simpsons lines is in an episode where Homer and his friend Barney are in a competition to see who gets to go into space. Barney does well and Homer does badly. At the end the NASA scientist says:
“You have both worked very hard. And in a way, you’re both winners….But in a another more accurate way Barney is the winner and Homer is the looser”.
I like that quote because it so cleverly captures our desire to make everyone feel better and get along more easily at the expense of truth. Even more subtly, while not actually lying, truth has been “angled” in such a way as to be deceptive. There is a sense in which they have both worked hard and won the “personal effort” race, but they have worked hard in order to win the “get into space race”.
The postmodern pill on offer is that “we are all winners”. All truth is relative (except that of course) and it doesn’t really matter what you believe [slip in various qualifications here!] as we will all arrive at the same destination in the end. This same fudging of truth can creep into the church. We can be tempted to angle the truth to make everyone feel better and get along more easily. But it’s a rather short sighted approach and Jesus does not like it. The church needs to be able to say not just that “there is truth in all religions and philosophies”, which in a way there is, but with compassion and respect and humility that “in another more accurate way Jesus is the true way to God and all other ways are wrong. They simply won’t get you to where you want to go. You may win the sincerity race but not the eternal life race”.
Jesus is passionate about truth. It is represented, not as a pencil or pair of geekish glasses, but a sword and it’s coming out of his mouth! Swords pierce and cut, they protect and attack. Jesus speaks the truth and he wants us to do the same. If we won’t he promises to come and sort it out himself. I don’t know what that mens but it doesn’t sound good.