Written in 2019
A Christmas Reminder
Funny thing happened this morning. I woke up thinking, “Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.” Kind of ironic given it’s the Christmas season and we are celebrating a baby born in a manager.
If you know me at all, then it would be easy to guess the reason why this saying popped in my head. But since most of you don’t know me or what has transpired over the last 45 years of my life, I thought it might be a good idea to share an overview of my story with you before I talk about why I woke up at 5:30 this morning thinking, “Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.”
Don’t worry, I am going to keep this short. It would not be fair to you or to me to unpack the depth and amazement of my story right here and right now. So loooong story very short, I was basically born in christianity. I don’t remember not knowing christianity. My journey in christianity from childhood to the present moment has had more than its fair share of ups and downs, frustrations, joy, disappointments, mystery, sadness, miracles, struggles, heart breaking and heart melting moments.
For a while now, I have tried my best to follow Jesus and in following Jesus, I have become less willing to settle for any teaching that misrepresents the God-man who said, “Come to me, ALL who toil and are burdened and I shall give your rest. Take my yoke upon yourselves and learn from me, because I am gentle and accommodating in heart, and you will find rest for your souls; For my one is mild and my burden light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
If there is one thing that Jesus wants to make abundantly clear, then it is that not only did he speak the truth, but he is The Truth. When Pilate asked Jesus, “What is truth?”, Jesus just stood and didn’t say a word.
Because, he (Jesus) was the Truth and he wasn’t a what… he was “The Who” standing right in front of him. In being the Truth, there was no division or difference in what Jesus said, what he did and who he was. Throughout the New Testament Jesus talks about the truth. He even said, “I am the way, the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6
The Bible is abundantly clear that Jesus is the God-man and he is the Truth who has come to Earth to call us back to himself, back to Truth and back to who we are designed to be… our true-selves.
Because we were made by Truth to be true, to know truth, to speak truth and to live in truth. “Because in him were created all things in the heavens and on earth, the visible as well as the invisible… all things were created through him and for him;” Colossians 1:16
Not only are we physical, mentally, emotionally, spiritually and relationally designed for truth and to be in relationship with the Truth, but we are all born with an innate desire and fundamental need to search for truth. Even when it looks like we are not looking for truth… We are. When it doesn’t feel like we are searching for truth… We are. And when we don’t know that we are searching for truth… We are.
I just think we keep looking for Truth in all the wrong places. I know that has been my story and it’s not like I wasn’t looking for Truth in some “right and good” places. Likewise, it also wasn’t that I didn’t know a lot of truth because I knew a lot about the Bible. I knew theology and I knew about Jesus. But as much truth as I knew, there always seemed to be something that just wasn’t right, and deep down I knew something in me wasn’t right.
Truthfully, there had always been a disconnection.(Insert a large part of my story) and after I was forced to see and be honest about the disconnect in my own self, it somehow managed to make me aware that what I was hearing, what I was saying, what I was believing, what I was doing and what I saw other christians doing Did Not make sense.(Insert another large and important part of my story) So, I made a conscious decision to search for truth and to ask, “What is the truth?” As I began my quest, I became very selective about anything and everything I watched and read because I wasn’t just looking for a spiritual truth, I was looking for The Truth and for something or someone who would help me understand it all. I know this may scare some of you but not only did I stop listening and watching a lot of music and TV and reading self-help books, but I also stopped reading my Bible, reading “christian” books, listening to christian music and I stopped going to church (GASP).
Honestly, I was just worn out from a lifetime of listening to people tell me what the truth was and I decided to look for it myself. As I began this journey, I looked around and wondered how in the world would I ever find truth in a culture that is saturated with post, opinions, formulas, programs, advice, information and experts. This is not just true in Christianity, but it is true anywhere and everywhere in the world. It seems like everyone wants to tell us “the truth” or the way to truth. It took some serious ninja effort to block out all the talking heads but I did and I started to look for truth for myself.
Strange as it may sound, I thought the best place to start looking for truth was in myself. I reasoned that if I was unable to tell my own truth, then how would I ever know what truth sounded like when I found it. So I started telling the truth about myself to myself, to God, to my best friend, and to about anyone who would listen. I reasoned that if the only thing that I knew about truth was its promise and ability to set me free, then I was going to tell my truth with everything and anything I could muster. And you know truth did set me free… to be humbled, actually humiliated. (Side note, if you really want humility, just tell your real truth) But a funny thing happened in telling my truth and being humbled and humiliated, it created the space for more truth and more truth, and truth led me to more truth and it kept going on and on until I found the Truth.
That’s right, I found The Truth (Jesus) in my own deep humility and humiliation, which also happened to be the place in me where I discovered my deepest truths. Perhaps, you know the truths that I am talking about, the ones that reveal that you really are vulnerable, weak, needy, fragile, transparent, sensitive, desperate and dependent on Divine Love to be and live naked and unashamed. You know, like the baby in the manager and like the God-man we call Jesus.
When I arrived at this place, I found Jesus had been waiting there for me the whole time. And yet, it was only through humility that he could be found, and it was only in my own humility that I could I know and love Him like He already knew and loved me. (Insert the most magical part of my story here) Yes, I found Truth is a person and He is Jesus. He came in truth. He lived in truth. He spoke truth. He died in truth. He was resurrected in truth. He is truth and he is waiting for all of us who want Truth. “Come to me, ALL who toil and are burdened and I shall give your rest. Take my yoke upon yourselves and learn from me, because I am gentle and accommodating in heart, and you will find rest for your souls; For my one is mild and my burden light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
I tell you this story and these truths because this is what we are called to be and do as Christians. We are to be Truth. We are called to tell our truths, confess our sins, be weak, imitate Christ and be a contradiction in world polluted by hate, fear, guilt, shame, pride, jealousy, arrogance and rage. Jesus didn’t call to us from a throne, he did’t stand on a pedestal, behind pulpit or from any type of platform when he said “Come to me…”
God did not speak down to us, he humbled himself to speak to us on our level. He humiliated himself to be with us and to create the space for us to be with him. “Be of that mind in yourselves that was also in the Anointed One Jesus, Who, subsisting in God’s form, did not deem being on equal terms with God a thing to be grasped, But instead emptied himself, taking a slave’s form, coming to be in a likeness of human beings; and, being found as a human being in shape, He reduced himself, becoming obedient all the way to death, and a death by a cross.” Philippians 2:6-8
The only way we can be in relationship with The Truth is by humbling ourselves, telling our truth, being the truth and living the truth. It is the only way we can know and be known. It is the only way we can be made whole. It is the only way we can be healthy. It is the only way to receive help. It is the only way we can be healed. It is the only way we can be accepted for who we are. It is the only way we can become our true-selves. It is the only way we can be set free. It is the only way we can find rest. It is the only way we can be in relationship with the divine. It is the only way we can know and love ourselves. It is the only way we can know and love others. It is the only way we can live in Truth.
If we want to share with the glory of Christ, then we must share in his humility and humiliation because that is only place where glory flows. We could never go high, so God came low. He emptied himself of everything and he was found to be a baby lying in a manger. If there is such thing as a litmus in christianity, then it has to be truth. Am I and are you who claim to be a christian moving, speaking, living and loving out of truth? Are we loving God, ourselves, our neighbors, our enemies and our friends out of truth?
We are called to Be Truth.
1 John 3:18-19 says, Little children, let our love be not in talk or on the tongue, but in action and truth. By this we shall know that we belong to the truth, and assure our heart before him:”
I tell you this to remind you that truth and love are not two different things and they are not two sides of the same coin. Love is truth and truth is love and both are Jesus, and both are alive and they move, live and have their being in humility and through our own humility. If you are willing to look and see, then you will understand it is not just love that is described in first Corinthians but it’s truth too…Truth is also magnanimous, truth is kind, is not envious, truth does not boast, does not bluster, Does not act in an unseemly fashion, does not seek for things of its own, is not irascible, does not take account of the evil deed, Does not rejoice in injustice, but rejoices with the truth; It tolerates all things, has faith in all things, hopes in all things, endures all things. Truth never fails.
It’s only when we live in truth that we can know The Truth and it’s only when we can tell the truth that we can be humble and it’s only when we are truthful and humble that we can be in relationship with Jesus. Consequently, we can have the true eyes to see all that’s not true in the world, and especially in the world of Christianity. So let’s be clear about this, anyone not speaking, living, working, writing, preaching, giving advice and posting truth that is not full of peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, self-control and love is not imitating Christ, and (in my opinion) not worth listening to and certainly not worth following.
With that said, we arrive back to “Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.” With Christmas upon us and the start of a new year, it seems like a perfect time to start fresh and we can start with baby Jesus. We can start by simply being honest and courageously asking ourselves some honest questions. Are you exhausted? Are you tired of holding in all the shame, guilt and fear of rejection? Are you lonely? Are you tired of being angry? Are you sick of yourself? Are you sick of everybody else? Are tired of fighting for control and failing? Do you have everything and it feels like nothing? Is life crushing for you? Are you ready to give up the charade? Have you arrived at the top or the bottom, and everything just seems meaningless? Does your christianity or your belief system puff you up and make you a self-righteous, hypocritical and arrogant a…hole? Can you be honest about your deep need as a human being to be known and loved, to want friends and to belong to people who want to belong with you? Are you tired of fighting? Are you sad? Are you ready to be vulnerable? Are you unhealthy? Do you have a broken heart? Or do you have tears that need to be wiped? If so, then Jesus (The Way, The Truth and The Life) simply says “Come to me, ALL who toil and are burdened and I shall give your rest. Take my yoke upon yourselves and learn from me, because I am gentle and accommodating in heart, and you will find rest for your souls; For my one is mild and my burden light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
The only thing you need is your truth to meet The Truth who through your own humility will find lying in humility.
The only way to know truth is humility.
The only way to live in truth is humility.
The only way to be truth is humility.
The only way to speak truth is humility.
The only way to relate to truth is humility.
The only way to receive truth is in humility.
The only way to give truth is in humility.
The Reason being…
Truth made this world in humility.
Truth was born into this world in humility.
Truth lived in this world in humility.
Truth died in humility.
Truth sent His Spirit in humility.
Truth continues to come to us in humility.
Truth speaks to us in humility.
Truth wrote to us in humility.
Truth lives with us in humility.
Truth relates to us in humility.
Truth reveals itself to us in humility.
Truth waits for us in humility.
Perhaps, you are in a place where you are ready to throw out Christianity. Honestly, I don’t know if I blame you. I just ask before you do, please take some time to see if you really do know who this God-man is and what he actually says. Take it upon yourself to read The Bible. David Bentley Hart has a wonderful translation of The New Testament that I believe has tried to eliminate the want of man to steer interpretation towards his own doctrinal prejudices. In looking for yourself, you’d be surprised to find that maybe you never really did know Jesus. I will tell you he’s definitely worth any and all effort to find.
Which on finding The Truth, it will be much easier to throw out religion’s dirty bathwater and keep the Christmas baby.