"You Can’t Handle the Truth!"

Without a doubt, one of the all time most memorable lines from cinema in the past twenty years came from Jack Nicholson in the movie “A Few Good Men.” When pressed in a court martial hearing about the practices of the military Jack Nicholson’s character bellows out “YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH!!!” He was referring to the fact that while all of us want to feel that we are safe in this world because our military protects us, this security comes with a price. Sometimes things have to be done that many of us don’t want to know about and would not want to get our “hands dirty” doing. It is a thankless job that is done not for gratitude but for purpose.
In Luke 17, our loving Jesus reminds us that we as Christians have a duty to serve Him and His purpose in our lives. We don’t do this job to receive gratitude from Him, our Master, but for purpose. In verses 7-10 Jesus explains that our life is one to be spent in service (WORK) for Him. Jesus reminds us that this is a thankless work in verse 9 and that we are foolish if we expect payment from Him prior to His needs being met. Even then, we are not worthy of payment because we are simply doing our duty.
This sounds so different than the prosperity gospel that is so prevalent today. Today, and I fear even in the Church of Christ, people are being taught that they simply need to be baptized, come to church, and quit their bad habits and that Jesus will pour His blessing upon them. I call foul! This teaching is not in line with Christ’s teachings. Christ is using the parable in Luke 17 to forewarn us that if we expect to meet Him, it’s time to get to work. Our mission is one of duty, not namesake. If we want to be member’s of Christ’s kingdom, it is time to get to work.
So, the question then arises over why are we not teaching this from our pulpits, mission fields, Christian publications, and Sunday School classes? I fear that the answer is that like Jack Nicholson’s character in “A Few Good Men” we are telling believers and non-believers alike that “You can’t handle the truth.” Are we afraid that if we really tell people what is required of them after baptism that our numbers might drop? Is our faith in Jesus really so weak that we believe we have to withhold the actual truth about the narrow gate in order to get people to accept Him? Have we allowed the gospel to become so sugar-coated with political correctness that our churches are now full of members who will walk out should we tell them they are not doing enough to advance Christ’s mission for us? Where are the men and women who will stand up in love and honor and tell our brothers and sisters we see slipping away from the field of duty that they are hindering Christ’s return? All of us are unworthy but none of us have a right to ignore our mission.
Imagine with me: You are standing at the throne of our loving and most powerful God on Judgment Day. God then inquires from you about not only the community around you and those who are lost but those of your home congregation. God may ask “Why did you not tell Jack and Jill that you thought they could do more to help in spreading the gospel? Why did you not tell them they were disgracing the cross by thinking they had done enough for Christ’s kingdom? Why did you not sew these people I put at your feet?” How will God respond when you answer “I didn’t think they could handle the truth?”

This post and many similar posts regarding Christian’s missional call may be found at

~ by dvdbrumley on November 14, 2008.

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