“I am the way, the truth, and the life.” – John 14:6
In the United States, we are nearing the end of election season. It’s less a contest between persons, more a battle of narratives. In one poet’s words, “… Faces, orations, battles bait our will / As questionable forms and noises will.”
“Questionable forms and noises” seems an apt description, as ideologies ride roughshod over ideas. The competition for attention and allegiance is fierce, raucous, ugly. What’s a faithful person to do?
John’s gospel may be especially helpful. It begins by reminding us that our hope is cosmic — “The logos [the essential meaning at the heart of all things] was with God, and the logos was God.” John’s gospel reminds us that our hope is also particular: in an unplanned provision for a wedding party, an unexpected bounty of food; an unanticipated healing, in signs too numerous to name that declare: God has shown up. In other words, our hope is in the One who bridges earth and heaven, meeting the needs of body and soul.
Which ideology wins an election will influence our lives: granted. But the work of the faithful remains the same, regardless: to answer meaninglessness with purposeful compassion; to respond to exceptionalism with universal forgiveness; to reply to fearful bigotry by taking on the perspective of those who have suffered persistent indignities; to mend the world.
“I am the way, the truth, and the life,” said Jesus. Which means for us who follow not simply evoking the name above all names, but electing a narrative that is not on any ballot. We elect the way of love for God’s creatures and creation. We elect the truth of God’s love for the lost, the lonely, the last, the least, the let down, the left out. We elect the life that would rather give itself up than compromise love.
God of earth and heaven, preserve us from despair or triumphalism in the thin narratives of our own making. Grant us grace to once more find ourselves in your hope-giving story of love unbounded. Give us courage today to choose the way, the truth, and the life that will gladden your heart. In Jesus’ name; Amen.
John A. Nelson is Pastor and Teacher of Church on the Hill, UCC, in Lenox, Massachusetts.