As Christians we commit ourselves to the truth of God’s word—we profess to worship and believe in the truth incarnate, Jesus Christ, and we devote ourselves to the study of God’s written truth, namely, his word. We regularly seek the truth of God’s word each and every Lord’s Day as we go to church and draw near to Christ through the means of grace—word, sacrament, and prayer. We walk away from a worship service and give thanks to God when one of his faithful ministers heralds the truth and preaches the gospel of grace. But as dedicated as we are to knowing and living the truth, many of us fear it.
Seeking the truth is like going to the dentist—we know we need to go, and it’s good for our dental health, but many do not want the dentist poking around in our mouth because we fear what he will find. We fear what the dentist’s shiny headlamp will reveal in the inner recesses of our mouths. As he pokes and prods the crevices of our teeth and shines his light into the darkness, will the dentist discover tooth decay, tender spots in our gums, or uncover the need for serious surgery when he exposes disease through the all-knowing gaze of an x-ray? We fear such things because we want to avoid pain and discomfort—we want to avoid the dentist’s diagnosis if it means that we will need a root canal! If we knew in advance that the dentist would give us a clean bill of health, then I suspect that no one would fear the dentist. But the best brushing and flossing can’t perfectly guarantee such results.
We must remember that God’s word brings his all-powerful word to bear into our lives. Even though we might have trepidation over undergoing the scalpel of God’s truth, his careful surgeon’s hand will never destroy the church or us. God’s truth always edifies. Truth, however, will always corrode and destroy idolatry. Unlike the dentist, who might misdiagnose our condition and needlessly perform a procedure we don’t need, God’s truth will always be to our benefit and spiritual health. When we read the word or hear something objectionable in a sermon, we should pause, listen, weigh, and consider whether God has uncovered a weakness in our lives that requires treatment. If we fear truth’s incision, it might be that God has targeted an infected part of our life that requires careful removal, and if we recoil or flee, the weakness will only grow stronger and thus leave us weaker. Never, therefore, fear the truth or where it leads. God uses his truth to conform us to the image of Christ, to burn away the dross of sin in our lives, so that God’s glory shines all the more brilliantly to his glory and praise.