What is Truth?
(I originally wrote this for our local newspaper's pastor's column.)
I’m a news junkie. I like watching and reading the news and know what is going on in our town, across our state, the country and the world. It is interesting to know what is going on and to be aware of current events.
Last week I saw a clip of an interview that was rather intriguing. This interview was given by Rudy Giuliani, former mayor of New York City, and who is currently serving as a personal attorney to President Trump. In the interview he made the comment that “truth isn’t truth” and said that “it is someone’s version of the truth”. These comments have received a lot of criticism since they were said.
It got me thinking about another time that words like this were spoken. It happened after Jesus had been arrested and put on trial before the Roman governor Pontus Pilate. Pilate is trying to figure out who this Jesus character really is. He’s heard many things, but now he has the chance to speak with him directly. He starts asking question as he tries to get to Jesus’ true identity. In response to one of these questions, Jesus says, “For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” (John 18:37)
Pilate then says, “What is truth?” It really is the age-old question, isn’t it? What things are true and what things are false? What do we believe and what do we reject? How do we know?
These questions have heated up over the past few years as you read stories about false information being spread via social media, biased news reporting, and outright lies being told by people in interviews. You might find your head spinning and the question, “What is truth?” coming up again and again. We might long for a perfect world where everyone told the truth all of the time, but unfortunately, we know that won’t happen.
It won’t happen because the truth is that we all have a little problem. It doesn’t matter if you’re rich or poor, old or young, popular or an outcast, we all have the same problem. That problem is sin. The phrase, “Nobody is perfect” is true. We have all been affected by sin and that is what causes us not to live a perfect life. Sin is what causes us to lie too.
The unfortunate truth is that this sin separates us from God our creator. God made everything around us – the world and everything in it. He made you and me and he loves his creation. But God can’t stand sin. Sin can’t be in his presence. It doesn’t matter if it is one sin or one million sins – they all break the relationship between God and his creation. If left unchecked, this broken relationship results in an eternity of separation even after we die.
The truth is that you and I can’t fix ourselves. You already know this. Try being perfect for a whole day – not getting angry, not saying anything mean, not thinking anything bad. It’s impossible. Sometimes it is hard to even go an hour. Yet God demands perfection, not just your best try.
This truth might seem pretty hopeless. If we’re sinners who are separated from God and we can’t do anything to fix the relationship because we are sinners what good is anything?
However, the even bigger truth is that God is a God of mercy, and grace, and love. The truth is that he loved you so much that he sent his son Jesus into the world to be perfect since you and I couldn’t. He sent Jesus to take all of the punishment that you and I deserved and to give us all of the perfection that we couldn’t do on our own.
Jesus says, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life”. (John 14:6) Anyone who believes in him has forgiveness and eternal life with him. This is the truth that transcends everything else.
People may lie and contradict each other. We may wonder whether what we’re hearing or reading on social media and in other outlets is true, but the one thing that you never have to wonder about being true is how much God loves you. That is the greatest truth in the history of the world and ultimately the only truth that really matters.
My name is Tom. I'm fascinated by the ways that people, ideas, current events and theology interact with each other.