Wednesday, May 7, 2008

The Spirit of Truth

One of the characteristics the Holy Spirit gives us is the ability to understand the Truth. Jesus says in the beginning of John's gospel that he comes to bring "grace and Truth." Throughout John's gospel he speaks a truth that some (his followers) see while the world ignores it. As he talks about his impending death and offers the disciples the gift of the Holy Spirit, he says it will bring to them a Spirit of truth.
I won't get into the question: what is truth? I think that the truth Jesus is talking about is centered in a relationship to God that gives us the ability to hear what we need to hear so we can live as God intends us to live. Related to this is the issue: WHO WILL TELL US THE TRUTH?
I read Tom Friedmans column in the New York Times the other morning. Tom wrote the megabestseller "The World is Flat". This widely read book talks about the Internet age and the globalization of the worlds technology and economy. Tom is a big advocate for America to strengthen its educational system and to rebuild our national "soft capital." Friedman is a strong believer that the high price of oil produces autocratic regimes and that until Americans can dramatically reduce our need for oil we are giving the dictators the resources to bully their people and to support terrorists. Some oil company executives have challenged his premise, but they have a vested interest in keeping oil demand sky high.
IN today's article Friedman says that Americans want to engage in nation building. But they want to do it in America, not Iraq. Tom tells the same story my Mother told me when she returned from visiting China. When you go to Asia you leave behind a delapidated American infrastructure and arrive in gigantic, glistening airports. You ride on state of the art public trains. You plug into free Internet portals and see children playing in well appointed play zones. He says it well: "I had "flown from the Flinestones to the Jetsons."
Friendman says we need a President who can tell us the hard truth about who we are and what the world is now like. We are no long the strongest country in the world. We no longer have the resources to control the globe militarily. We cannot challenge Iran because we are bogged down in Iraq. Our public educational system is the weakest in the free world.We need a President who is tough and truthful enough to tell the truth to the American people.
Friedman says it this way:
We are not who we think we are.
We are living on borrowed time and borrowed dimes.
We still have the potential for greatness,
but only if we get back to work on our country.

I was thinking about a more personal truth telling each of us needs.
Who tells us the truth about the hard spiritual questions in our lives?
Sin leads us to deny the truth about ourselves. We are usually not near the people we think we are. Are we honest about our relationships? Do we really commit the time and attention to making them strong and durable? Are we honest about our habits? Are we spiritually healthy: do we live with integrity and do we take care of our soul?
Jesus said we should know the truth and that the truth will set us free.

We need someone to tell the truth to the American people about the mess we are in. We also need the Holy spirit to open our eyes to see the truth about ourselves. Then we need the courage and discipline to do some nation building and character building.