surgical removal of platitudes
What kind of comfort am I looking for? I remember reading one spiritual teacher being asked, Why are you so cruel? Why do you say things that seem so rude and so hard to accept? His response was something like this: What do you want me to say? Do you want me to stroke you with lies? It is like you go to a surgeon with a serious illness. Do you want him to just stroke your brow and tell you platitudinous lies? Or do you want him to take the scalpel, cut you open, and remove the cancer? This hit me very powerfully, because I realized that I will often if not always be tempted to be pacified with platitudes; and as a pastor, that I will be tempted and even expected to pacify others with platitudes. It reminds me of Jesus after he taught about eating his flesh and drinking his blood, basically saying, Listen: with me, it s all or nothing! Those listening were offended: Who does he think he is? His own disciples were offended: This teaching is too hard to accept! It says a few verses later: Because of this many disciples turned back and no longer went about with him. It cost him his popularity. His church shrank from thousands to 12 after that sermon! But Jesus was so determined, so unbending, he even invited his disciples to leave if this was too much for them: Do you also wish to go away? (John 6). He was a surgeon, not a back-scratcher! Even Chambers said lately: Many of the cruel things in life spring from the fact that we suffer from illusions The refusal to be disillusioned is the cause of much of the suffering in human life! This isn t even a Christian teaching necessarily. You can find it in Buddhism. My point? Isn t it about time I got truly honest about the most basic human illness blindness? Physician heal thyself! Then, following that, isn t it about time I got truly honest with others about their most basic need: to be disillusioned? Am I done with platitudes? At any cost?