Not facts, not information, but truth: truth about ourselves, about humanity, about God?
I am a reader and thinker by nature – I love sopping up information and ideas just as a sponge sops up spilled milk. But, as much as I love this, I have come to realize that truth comes in other packages. Books and lectures may point us toward the truth (or not). But real, deep truth comes through experience, relationship, and our humanity.
In the religious life, we can learn about God from books and sermons. Reading the Bible can teach us how our forebears understood God. We can study the history of ideas about God. Jesus’ life and teaching give us a wonderful glimpse of God and God’s ways. But to know the truth of God, we must have experience – an encounter with God. Likewise, to know the truth about another human being, we must meet and know that human being. And even more than that, we must come to love that human being…as we love ourselves.
I say all this because we celebrate LGBT Pride this Sunday – God’s inclusion of all of God’s people in the beloved family of God. One expression of that family is the Church. The Christian Church has often not lived up to Jesus’ radical call to love our neighbor. We have divided humanity into groups; we have excluded many. We have called some “sinners,” when every one of us falls short of God’s perfect will. We have failed to answer God’s call to love – and hence to know the truth that others bring. Until we meet and know and love each other, we cannot understand each other.
As I have come to meet and know others who span the broad spectrum of sexual identity, I have realized that we all share the same deep longing: to love and to be loved. We are all imperfect in the practice of love, yet Jesus calls us to love one another as he loves us. And when we do, he promises us joy:
“Abide in my love….that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete. This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” (John 15:10-12)
Jesus does not promise us a life of ease, a life free of conflict and hard decisions, or a life without sadness and loss. But Jesus does promise us joy: the deep gladness that comes from walking in love with God and our neighbors…even when our love is imperfect. That, in the end, is what we are on this good earth to do. It is in the loving that we learn the truth of things. JBM