Friday, July 26, 2013

Reflections on Truth

The truth. This word, this concept has been sparking debates for ages. What is truth? What is THE truth? How can we know? Why does man search for it so ardently? We need the truth to ground us, to give us a point of reference from which to order our lives, like an anchor. Without the truth, we are left to be swept to and fro by waves and winds of life with no hope for really knowing where we are or where we are heading. It is how we come to ascribe meaning and purpose in life. 

Famous names throughout history and throughout the world have had something to say about the truth – Buddha, Ghandi, Winston Churchill, Martin Luther King, Jr., and pretty much anyone who has written even the tiniest bit of philosophical musings in an Intro to Philosophy class. But maybe you’re not scouring dusty books on politics or philosophy for the truth… maybe the truth of the world finds its way into your life through more common means: the thoughts of your family members, friends and coworkers, movies and TV shows you watch, or the news media.  The problem is, there are as many sources of “truth” as there are people on this earth.  

As Christians, followers of Christ, we fundamentally believe and accept that the Bible is the infallible Word of God. In Galatians, Paul makes several references to “the truth of the Gospel.” In the NT, the word “truth” is “aletheia” (a-lay-thay-uh), which refers to the “truth in reality and in fact; the true notions of God which are open to human reason WITHOUT his supernatural intervention; that sincerity of mind which FREE from affection, pretense, simulation, falsehood and deceit.”  It is objective, REAL, knowable to everyone.

Matthew 22:16 says the Pharisees recognized that Jesus taught according to the truth, even as they tried to trap him in his honesty: “We know that you are a truthful and that you teach the way of God truthfully, and you do not care about anyone’s opinion, for you are not partial.”

John teaches that “truth came through Jesus Christ,” and Jesus then says that He IS “the way, the TRUTH, and the life.” (John 1:17 and 14:6).

In the Old Testament, “truth” comes from the word “Aman” (Ah-man), meaning “to support, confirm, be faithful, uphold and nourish, as with foster parents…” Hebrew is a language of images and metaphors, which is why a definition including the image of foster parents is powerful.  In Jewish culture, an adopted son is as good as a natural son; there is no distinction made in genealogical charts. And adopted son could not be disowned.  This helps us understand that there is a PERMANENCE and RELIABILITY to truth. It is NOT relative, dependent on outside circumstances or mood; it is a SURE thing.

Truth is related to belief and faith. It is used in Genesis 15:6 about Abraham, “then he believed in the Lord, and He reckoned it to Him as righteousness.” It describes the law of God, “The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple” (Ps 19:7). It describes the belief man has, “I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living” (Ps 27:13).

In just these few verses we can see that THE TRUTH comes from Jesus and IS Jesus,  is impartial, unwavering and doesn’t change according to opposing opinions, it is SURE and brings wisdom, righteousness and alleviates despair.

So how can we know if what we are believing is THE Truth or a worldly distortion of the truth?

Take a look at the fruit of your life. A life oriented to THE truth is characterized by joy, peace, confidence, patience and kindness. A life oriented to the world’s truth is characterized by anxiety, depression, and anger, full of dysfunction, disorder and distress.  

If our lives are characterized by stress, depression, anger and strife, how can we change that?

First, walk yourself through this exercise –
1) Identify your feeling. (depressed)
2) Ask yourself what beliefs you're holding that are promoting this feeling. (I am unlovable)
3) Ask yourself if that belief is Biblically true. If it is not, identify the Biblical truth. (God loves me)
4) Find the scripture that supports the Biblical truth, and write it on your heart, meditate on it day and night. Be transformed by the renewing of your mind, by setting your mind on things above. (Zephaniah 3:17 The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing. 1 John 3:1 See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. Romans 8:37-39 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.)

Second, don't trust that your feelings are telling you the truth. Feelings are fleeting and easily changed. They are affected by hormones, food intake, exercise, circumstances... our feelings are unreliable.

Third, practice expectation management. You are a fallible human being living in a fallen world. Part of living the truth is accepting that you will not live a perfect life outside of heaven. Instead of being obsessive about perfection, accept the truth of who God is FOR YOU ( Psalm 30:5). Faith in the truth is SANCTIFYING (2 Thess. 2:13). So relax, and experience the peace that comes from living a life according to the Truth.