What is truth? Today in society it might be a little difficult to pin down what is true and what is not, because it seems to be a pretty slippery thing. What was true yesterday may no be so today. Often as history is examined under the lens of today, what was once believed to be true is no longer so.
Just consider all the sexual scandals that have rocked many institutions and individuals, of course from which the church does not escape. From churches, residential homes for boys and girls, to football clubs and social care one should have expected children to be loved and cherished, taken care of and nurtured to be the best they could be—that should have been the truth. Yet in places, and it is a minority of places—this proved to be a lie.
The lack of truth is playing a major part in our world today—which you might argue is a post-truth world. Fake-News is a often used word in social media and the politics. So, if it is ‘fake’ then it must be untrue, a lie. But it’s difficult to make out what is fake and what is true. You can’t see the wood for the trees as the saying goes.
But let’s face it, does it really matter? In a world where the pace of life is instant; what we want is on demand; and the news cycle is always changing, shifting from one story to the other (or maybe it doesn’t feel like that with Brexit as that is NEVER off the news), the truth can get lost in this barrage of changing stories. So what—who cares?
And what about the smaller picture? What about the mundanity of our lives — do we always tell the truth? Can you tell me the correct answer to the question ‘do you like my new haircut / clothes’? Is it always yes, even if you I don’t think so, because after all a little ‘white lie’ to keep the peace is fine, isn’t it?
So what is truth and are we as humans capable of telling it? Well I do believe there is ultimate truth. I don’t believe that we can all make up our own truths, because when one truth conflicts with another — one of them would have to be untrue. As I discussed with my Dad when I was young—the world is not black and white—but there is much grey, by which I meant differences of opinion. I may truly believe something to be true and another person believe the opposite—we can’t both be right, though we can agree to disagree.
So what does Scripture have to tell us about truth?
Psalm 43.3 says ‘Send forth your light and your truth, let them guide me’ – truth provides the right path to follow in life
Proverbs 12.19 ‘Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue lasts only a moment’ – the truth never changes. If something we thought was true becomes untrue, it always was. We were just deceived or didn’t perceive or want to know the truth.
Jeremiah 6.14 ‘Peace, peace, they say, when there is no peace’ – denying the truth will never change it. The Israelites ignore Jeremiah’s warnings, listening to predictions of peace (from liars) when ignoring his truths of prophecy.
Mark 4.24-25 “Consider carefully what you hear” Jesus continued. “With the measure you use, it will be measured to you—and even more. Whoever has will be given more, whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away” – The light of Jesus’ truth is revealed to us, not hidden but we may not be able to see or comprehend all the truth now. Only as we put God’s teachings into practice will we see and understand more of the truth. The truth is clear, but our ability to understand is imperfect.
Luke 9.35 ‘A voice came from the cloud saying, “this is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him”’ – How do we determine what is or isn’t true? Jesus has power and authority, thus His words should be the final authority. Merely human sources for truth will lead down wrong paths.
John 1.1 ‘ In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.’ – What Jesus taught and di are inseparable from who he is, both fully human and fully God and he is the foundation of truth.
John 18.38 ‘”What is truth?” Pilate asked’ – Jesus has just declared all on the side of truth listens to me, and immediately Pilate retorts—what is truth. He is on the side of relative truth. Truth is whatever the majority agree with or whatever helped advance political or power goals…
… and that is our world today. Where our truths are relative and we are failing the citizens of the world, allowing them to fall into the chains of unbelief and despair. These are real chains that hold humanity back from a freedom and lightness that is free to all
In John 8.32-32 Jesus says “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free”.
Yours in Christ, Lord and Saviour