Be Holy. Be True
Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.
In the Gospel according to John, when Jesus prayed before His arrest, He entreated with God on behalf of His disciples. Having charged them to bring His teachings to the wider world, Jesus asked God to protect them as they ventured out to full their mission.
Jesus did not simply ask that divine protection be accorded His disciples. Rather, He asked God to “sanctify” them—to set them apart and make them holy. Whatever we sanctify we by definition declare to be sacred and thus reserved for a sacred purpose. That which is sanctified is by definition special, precious, something to be cherished above all else.
Yet Jesus was not merely asking God to magically make His disciples holy. Rather, He asks God to fill them with “the truth”—that truth being, of course, Jesus’ Gospel message. Carrying the truth of God’s word is what will make His disciples holy, special, and to be cherished above all else.
This is the nature of truth. In every context, from the scientific to the metaphysical, that which is “true” is invariably special, invariably sacred. In law, truth is deemed an absolute defense against charges of slander and libel; we cannot ever be said to have harmed anyone so long as we but speak the truth, whatever that truth is. That which is true is always inherently special, inherently precious, inherently something to be cherished above all else.
Jesus called His disciples to share the truth of God’s word with the world, and by that calling, called them to be holy. They were made holy by that truth, by their willingness to proclaim that truth, to live that truth, and ultimately to die in that truth.
This is the power of truth. In every context, from the scientific to the metaphysical, when we embrace that which is “true” we are ourselves elevated. We are raised up by truth. We are empowered by truth. Through truth we are able to become a force for good or for evil, and through truth we are able to see and to choose between good and evil. When we proclaim the truth, when we live in accordance with that truth, when we are prepared to die in service of that truth, we are ourselves made holy, sacred, precious, and special.
We are living in a time where the power of truth is more important than it has been for quite some time. Whether we are looking with horror at the violence in Gaza in the wake of Hamas’ October 7 attack on Israel or grimly watching the ongoing war in Ukraine, our world is increasingly filled with narratives supporting this or that side, advocating for more war and less peace. These narratives at best make a narrow use of the available facts, but more frequently are inaccurate in at least one particular.
These narratives are the antithesis of truth. They are stories intended to promote a particular ideology without regard to what is factually or morally true. Against such stories the only rebuttal is simply the truth.
As the power of truth is more important now than previously, it follows that it is more important now than previously for people to stand up for truth. It is more important now than previously that people be willing to be witnesses for truth, no matter the consequence.
Just as Jesus called His disciples to spread the truth of God’s word, so are we called today to spread truth in the face of these frequently false narratives. We are called to push back against the fear and the anger and the hatred these narratives promote.
We are called to spread truth, and we are to be sanctified by that truth. If we aspire to holiness, if we yearn to be righteous, this we can have, simply by standing for truth in all things.
Jesus prayed for His disciples to be sanctified by the truth of God’s word, for He knew that the stance of truth would not be a popular stance. He knew that the world would greet the truth with hostility and hate. We should not expect now to be any different.
Yet no matter how much hostility we face, no matter how much hatred we receive, that which is true will always be true, and proclaiming that which is true will always sanctify the proclaimer. The world might reject the truth, but the world can never change the truth.
The inability of the world to stand against the truth is what makes the truth sacred and holy. It is why, when we are filled with truth, we are by that truth made holy. It is why we are by the truths we proclaim sanctified.
Thus we know always what we must do to be holy. We simply have to be true.
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