It is the Holy Spirit’s job to convict, God’s job to judge and my job to love — Billy Graham [yes, poor Trinitarian theology, let it go]
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” Where is Phillip when you need him? Someone, at least in the Gospel of John, needs to ask: “Show us your commandments and we will fulfill them,” but not such luck. But then, Jesus does give them a, one, commandment: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another.”
John Pilch points out that in Jesus’ days, honor was more important than truth. In the service of the honor of your family, tribe, faction, or of your own house and person, it was normal, even expected, to tell lies. The verses in the Sermon on the Mound about oaths are addressed at this. Perhaps the lies told at Jesus’ trial can be seen by this light as well. The honor of the Temple is at stake therefore the lie serves the Temple. So, if Pilch is correct then the honor of God, being assumed to be in jeopardy, was being defended by killing Jesus. Irony in John is a well discussed theme.
In the upper room Jesus has just instructed the disciples to love one another (13:34) and to trust that the Holy Spirit will lead them into the Father’s love. They are to be a community that loves its own even as Jesus loved his own. (13:1) In other words, within his church, all honor and glory are given to God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit now and forevermore and the honor of God rests on the new habitation, the holy priestly people (1Pt2:5) where love seeks no honor of its own and the people have no need to lie for honor’s sake.
Now: The world does not know the Spirit. The Spirit is the Spirit of Truth. (14:16) Does then the Honor of God rest on all the world? The answer seems to be “no.” God awaits that the world submits to Jesus’ and in doing so to the honor of the Holy Trinity.
How does one then treat the world? Can one, in customs proper to the time, lie to the world in defense of the faith or the church? Well, the devil is the father of lies. (8:44) Just saying.
Yes, this is somewhat of a martyrs’ theology, but then, our Lord did not die of old age. It is also a non aggression theology. Not only is truth given no matter the cost, but also, since God judges, and since God redeems, defense of the truth of the faith is also left up to God whose honor is served by love and truth.
Can love live without truth? Can truth be a way of life without love? Is not honor, status, striving for power and riches an enemy to both?
I know what you are thinking: What is he going on about. How does that have anything to do with me? There seems to be a Christian moral code of conduct that is marked by truth and love. St. Peter speaks it very clearly in this weeks Epistle lesson. (1Pt2:14-17) Christian conduct must be above board and marked by charity in the sense that it is obvious that the disciple’s life is lived in gentle service to others. If bad things are said about Christians then those things ought to be lies. If they are not then the disciple has some repenting and confessing to do.
Mother Teresa is said to have once told Nouwen that the secret to a happy life was to spend no less than an hour a day adoring Christ in prayer and never doing anything that one knew to be wrong somehow. One could do worse as a motto for life.