“Pilate said to Him, ‘What is truth?’” John 18:38
When Paul wrote in Philippians 4:8 “think on these things,” the first thing he listed was truth. We are to think on things, or fix our minds on things, that are true. Paul envisioned truth as the North Star of the soul. If we fix our minds on the truth, then we make our way steadily toward a goal which Jesus described as life.
We live in an age that often calls into question the very notion of truth. “That may be true for you but not for me” has been around for quite a few years, but it neatly sums up a great deal of contemporary view on truth. I recently heard a young person say “It’s not a matter of whether you’re right or wrong. What matters is how you feel.” Truth dies on the altar of feelings. We live in an age where mood prevails.
I’d like to think the real problem is a basic confusion of the difference between opinion and truth, but I don’t think that’s the case. Truth, ultimate truth about the important mattes of life, depends on a Truth-Giver. That implies, for the classic definition of truth, that we must embrace the idea of a transcendent reality to which we are accountable, and that grinds against the elevation of the individual as the ultimate judge of right and wrong.
It’s far easier to jettison the notion of truth, make yourself the arbiter of all things, and declare your freedom from guilt. The goal is that your truth will set you free. However, nothing rooted in our fundamental defiance and insistence on our own way is ever going to lead to true freedom. That way is murky and predictably fraught with danger. There are very clear reasons Jesus made denial of self the prerequisite for discipleship.
As Christians we have a framework to define truth, and that is in the person of Jesus Christ. At Jesus’ trial Pilate asked the great question “What is truth?” The problem is he didn’t stick around to hear the answer Jesus might have given. Truth was standing right in front of Pilate.
Earlier in the Gospel of John, Jesus said “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). He wasn’t trying to start an argument. The audience was His disciples, which I’m sure today makes up the totality of my readership. He simply stated to very frightened and hopeless followers that He was and is the truth.
If Jesus is the truth, that means what He said and taught is, in fact, trustworthy and can guide us to life. If we stay solely with John then we can believe that there is a transcendent reality called God, that Jesus was with God from the very beginning and is the author of life, that God loves us deeply, that we can become His children through faith, that Jesus will help us survive and grow in the midst of our troubles, that the Holy Spirit will comfort and guide us, that Jesus really did rise from the dead, and that He has prepared a place for us in eternity. This list is not close to exhaustive, but there are some very helpful ideas here that should help you to manage this week’s upcoming challenges with the start of school, COVID, jobs and income, health, and a dozen other fears and doubts that likely will pop up as they usually do. This is truth that really can set you free.
Remember, the mind is to the soul as the brain is the body. Fix your mind on Jesus, who He is and what He taught. Make a fundamental decision, or recommitment, to live by His truth. Rediscover truth in Jesus. Your way will become clearer.
Dr. Terry Ellis
August 2, 2020