I owe my existence, in part, to the question “Who’s the most honest man in town?” It was a common opening line for 19th Century preachers looking for someone to engage in conversation about matters of faith. It worked for Stephen Haskell when he came on such a quest to Kaeo, New Zealand in 1885 and was directed to the home of my great great grandparents- Joseph and Hannah Hare in Kaeo, New Zealand. It was quite a scoop, because in one fell swoop, this family with two-dozen children became Seventh-day Adventists. (In case you’re wondering- Joseph, a widower with 11 children, married Hannah, a widow with eight, and together they had five more children.) If you’re curious about Seventh-day Adventist history- come and hear Dr. David Trim for the next several Wednesday nights at 7 p.m. in Sligo’s Fellowship Hall. You will learn a lot about this group of truth-seekers.
As I’ve mentioned before, I’m an avid audiobook listener. My trips to visit Sligo members give me many opportunities to learn while I drive. Several of the last books I’ve “read” are about history, for example: “1493” by Charles C. Mann, “The Reformation” by Patrick Collinson, “Age of Lincoln” by Orville Vernon Burton, and “The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr.” by Clayborne Carson. I’ve been in a state of shock- learning the truth about our past in these books, which was not taught in any of the classes I attended. The true history of our planet is filled to overflowing with the bloodshed of greed. We must face the truth about our planet or face the consequences of living with lies.
Martin Luther King Jr., who was assassinated because he was a truth-seeker said: “I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.”
Tomorrow, April 4, marks the 46th anniversary of his temporary defeat, while his truth goes marching on!
Dr. King, in turn, was deeply influenced by another truth-seeker, Mohandas “Mahatma” Gandhi. In order to come face to face with Truth, Gandhi believed, “one must be able to love the meanest of creation as oneself.” He spelled the word with a capital T because he equated Truth with God. His autobiography, “The Story of My Experiments with Truth” describes nonviolence as the best means of achieving truth. This includes treating others with respect since we are all potential recipients and sources of truth.
Dr. King saw this as a “potent instrument for social and collective transformation” and laid out six key principles, which I have paraphrased:
- Resist evil with nonviolence
- Seek to understand your opponent, not humiliate him or her
- Oppose evil, not the evildoer
- Suffer without retaliation
- Refuse to hate your opponent as you refuse to do violence to him or her
- Maintain the hope that our future will be governed by justice
Do these principles sound familiar? In two weeks we begin the celebration of Christ’s resurrection- the Person who embodied them- the Truth that came to set us free from the consequences of evil. We have “heard and believed the message of truth, the Good News that he has saved [us.]” (Ephesians 1:13 GW)