What is it that keeps you true to all that you believe? What helps you weather the storms of life in a way that doesn’t uproot your basic values and lead you to act in a way that undermines rather than build up?
Over this week I have heard stories of people being abusive, threatening violence not just to our politicians but also to members of our own congregation. Doctors, health professionals, teachers, members of our police force, women in violent domestic relationships and many others are living with increased levels of stress due to the abuse they suffer in the course of their working week. What keeps you centred and true to yourself? And what helps to deepen and build your resilience in facing the storms of life?
In our reading from the Gospel of John this week we find Jesus before Pilate. It’s an unequal meeting because Jesus is there by force, bound and under guard. However what is clear is that Jesus is not cowed or defensive. On the contrary he exudes a sense of peace and responds calmly and with authority to Pilate. His unlawful arrest and abusive treatment haven’t undermined him. Nor is there any sense of fanaticism about him. He is there to testify to the truth. The truth is one thing that holds him firm, and which he remains true to.
We live in a time where truth is so easily twisted into half-truth in such a way that it becomes a source of mis-information. It undermines us and unravels us. Who and what then do we trust? But also how do we behave toward those we disagree with in the midst of all this?
See how Jesus responds to Pilate. With calmness, treating his questions with the respect they demand, and doing so not out of fear or anger. Pilate presents himself as the one in charge, the lawful authority with power to command, the one demanding answers, but the gospel writer invites us to question that.
Who is truly in charge in this encounter? The quiet authority of Jesus who is the Truth, holds and challenges Pilate’s authority and unsettles him. Jesus is the Word made flesh, a word that refuses to be corrupted and when he is miss-used and tortured to death on a cross will not dignify the ridicule and verbal abuse thrown at him when he is at his weakest point. What a powerful testimony to truth.
So I come back to the question I began with, “What is it that keeps you true to all that you believe? What helps you weather the storms of life in a way that doesn’t uproot your basic values and lead you to act in a way that undermines rather than build up?”
The wisdom of our spiritual tradition encourages us to find a still point in our day just as Jesus did; a time to focus on the source of life and listen for the truth of God’s word which holds us and centres us.
It is there that we discover ourselves to be loved, deeply treasured and enjoyed by God. It is there also that we are challenged to grow into the fullness of maturity needed to love others in the way God loves us. It is there we find we are not alone in the storms of life, for One who has weathered many storms walks with us leading us into fullness of life. Take a Psalm like 121 and let its wisdom work on you.
I lift up my eyes to the hills – from where will my help come?
My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber.
He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade at your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night.
The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life.