“You are a king, then!” said Pilate.
Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”John 18:37
This Sunday Rebekah and I returned to Hudson Memorial Presbyterian Church for a third consecutive week. First, because eventually I am going to need to find some consistency in my Sunday mornings. Then, because we have really felt a genuine spirit of faith and community there.
The service didn’t disappoint. We felt very much present and engaged, and senior pastor Mac Schafer preached another helpful message.
What he talked about was truth, and how important it is that we both look for it and find it in Jesus.
Jesus and Pilate:
Mac used the classic story from John, where Jesus is being “interviewed” by Pilate. His inspiration was this 1881 painting by Mihály Munkácsy.
Not Jack Nicholson saying “You can’t handle the truth!” in A Few Good Men, but the strong, humble, grace-filled, light-saturated eternal King of the Universe reminding the vested power of Rome that real truth can only be found in him.
This weekend was also – in the Christian calendar – “Christ the King Day.” So the conversation Sunday morning focused on where our allegiances lie, how they are shored up, and what we can do to be more intentional when it comes to aligning ourselves with the truth and the sovereignty of God.
“The (mis)Information Age”
We live in an era that has been described as “The Information Age”. I would argue it has morphed into The Misinformation Age.
Mac used the helpful vehicle of “catechism” to make a critically important point, and it’s something that – as a journalist – has been on my mind for several years.
A catechism is an instructional tool, a series of questions and answers traditionally associated with teaching the Christian faith.
But the culture we inhabit today, Mac pointed out (referencing a helpful article from The Atlantic) has itself been catechized. Messages – often counter-factual and designed to manipulate, preformed and not subject to analysis or discussion – are presented, honed, fine-tuned, repeated, memorized, and regurgitated in a kind of perpetual cycle of loaded questions and rote answers.
What is chilling, and especially apropos on “Christ the King” Sunday, is the hard-to-miss fact that most Christians attend church sporadically (if they go at all), participate in Christian Education and discipleship opportunities even less, and practice a haphazard and largely unintentional daily devotional life. This as compared to literally hours each day watching cable news, listening to talk radio, reading articles and memes on social media, and engaging with slanted information typically designed to grab our attention via anger or sensation or fear.
Somehow getting a little Jesus squeezed in for Christians, and next to no Jesus for the vast majority of our population.
What to do?
What we must do, therefore, as Christian Disciples committed to following Jesus, is to not only work hard to become alert, informed, careful consumers of news and information… but to make sure the balance is tipped in favor of Christ the King!
We must saturate ourselves in Jesus.
And we absolutely must share the Good News too!
“You say that I am a king,” Jesus asks, rhetorically. “Fact is my purpose, my birth into this world, and the focus of my work all points to the truth. I am truth. Everything about me testifies to the truth. So put your attention, your intention, and your practice alongside your testimony and listen to me! Listen, then act. Truth, and – in consequence – action.”
We must not allow ourselves to be so overwhelmed by this catechized culture that we no longer hear the voice of Jesus.
“May the words of our mouths and the meditation of our hearts be pleasing to you – O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” – Psalm 19:14