a.k.a. Just Shut Up!
At least, this is what I consider the genuine message to be in this popular bumper sticker. You believe what you want to believe and I’ll believe what I want to believe and everybody’s Truth is subjective. Right? Just leave me alone. Live and Let Live. I won’t tell you to stop working magic and you won’t tell me to stop burning incense before my icons. And in this way, all shall be well.
Only it isn’t.
In this shallow manufactured Utopia, there is an inherent intellectual laziness; one sees borders on the surface, but the labyrinth of decrepit structures supporting this philosophy frequently washes away with the tides -- for if honesty prevails, one must acknowledge the collision between their Truth and their neighbor’s Truth. ie, I don’t mind that my neighbors are cannibals, after all, they live at the other end of the village.
With this article half-written in mind, how timely, I thought, as I stood in worship on Sunday. Bishop THOMAS was with us this day and I am thankful for it. He has a manner of speaking that really drives a point home; no fluff, no pretensions, just Truth -- succinctly. This past Sunday we remembered John the Baptist and the words of our Lord regarding this holy man: “Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist...” (St. Matthew 11:11) John was afraid of none, save God.
As Bishop THOMAS spoke, John the Baptist’s life came clearly to mind. I could envision what this rugged man might have looked like, living as an ascetic in the wilds of the Judean forest, wearing camel’s hair garments and eating locusts and wild honey. (St. Matthew 3) John was the greatest prophet and fearless in proclaiming Truth, as evidenced by his bold language, calling the Pharisees and Sadducees a “brood of vipers” and pressing them toward repentance for their sins.
Icon of John the Baptist
What a stark contrast John the Baptist presents to the notion of “coexist”, as our culture defines it. The voice of one crying in the wilderness, John was also known as the “forerunner” as he was born to pave the way for Christ, declaring Him worthy of our worship and identifying Christ as the true Lamb of God. I admire John’s fearlessness in the face of persecution. When he could have done the politically correct thing and stayed silent when the King entered into an adulterous relationship with his brother’s wife, Herodias, John the Baptist called it WRONG. He openly criticized what the King was doing and found himself in prison because of it.
Truth abrades those who love sin and Herodias was no exception. She hated John the Baptist for speaking this Truth, hated him so much that when the opportunity arose, she arranged for his beheading, thus marking John as a martyr for his faith. He lived rather to please God than men. God bless John the Baptist.
Fast forward two-thousand years. Our culture is shouting, Coexist!, Live and Let Live! while crossing fingers behind backs that our neighbor’s Truth will not mean our death. Subjective truth collides head-on against God’s prophet, John the Baptist who said, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!”
Painting of John the Baptist living in the wilderness by Geertgen Tot Sint Jans (15th century)
If we care anything at all about our neighbor, we will continue to proclaim - with great love - that there is only one God and it is His Truth that defines everything. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (St. John 14:6)
--an exclusive statement made for the benefit of all.