It is the week of Christmas and I lay aside my usual blogging to send you a personal message. I am honored that you are one of many who receive into your computer my fresh blog every Monday. During 2013 the blog has been viewed 18,333 times.
Truth is a big issue in my mind these days, but first, I share these personal notes.
December is a special month in our family. I was born in that month – early Christmas morning, in fact. That was 88 years ago. Kathleen and I were married in December. That was 66 years ago. And our first child, Carolyn, was born in December in time to mark the celebration of our first anniversary.
Those dates fall back into the shadows of the past but for us they remain heavy with meaning. On the 20th we went out for a simple dinner together to celebrate. And during this anniversary we have reviewed with joy the highlights of our long life together.
We were married in Niagara Falls,Canada,in a cottage on North Street. Nothing fancy. When we stood under that homemade, beribboned arch to exchange vows, marriage was still for the most part a stable institution.
For us, we bear witness that the resources of the Christian faith and the stability of the social environment that framed us have made our years together dominantly and abundantly joyful. This, in spite of the adversities that tested us, as they test every enduring marriage.
We continue to nurture the romance God visited on us back then — still laughing a lot, sharing our thoughts often, touching each other with the tenderness of love, and praying together daily.
Those activities may not characterize in large measure the practices of our present culture. News commentators say that even at this Advent season we are in disorder as a culture and marred by the repeated uncovering of lies and dissembling in high places. Some are calling the condition “an epidemic of lying.”
This makes it important for Christians to think hard and prayerfully about truth in relationships. Referring to our Lord’s “Advent” the Apostle John reports that our Messiah came from the Father, “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).
Grace is the undeserved generosity of our God in forgiving our sins and receiving us into his redeemed family. We know that and we rejoice.
But truth is a companion word, no less weighty than grace. Truth is first what God has made known of himself in Jesus, who said, “I am the truth” (John 14:6). Jesus is the living embodiment of truth. The more we are drawn to him the more we are inclined to love truth, to seek truth, and to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15).
Truth is what God demands of us. “He desires truth in the inward parts” (Psalm 51:6). We are to walk in truth (2 Kings 20:3). Truth is to be a stimulus for conduct. Careful and repeated self-examination can be counted on to prompt repentance for our shortcomings in this area and deepen our love for truth.
Because of our fallenness, truth will always be a gift of grace and at the same time a reality to be pursued in grace. If we read the Gospels or Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesian we will be called to truth again and again. Jesus prayed for his followers, “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17).
May this be a blessed Christmas for you. That is my wish. And may you and I alike be given inner strength and clarity of purpose in 2014 to make a telling contribution to the world’s desperate need for grace and truth.