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Burning Questions: What is Truth?

Sun March 1st, 2020

What is Truth?

After over 150 years, Relativism has well and truly bedded itself into our culture. In my teen’s things were simply right or wrong, and when we did wrong, we knew it but still often chose to do it. By the time that I hit my forties people were starting to talk about ‘their truth’. In the last decade this has become a fundamental of western culture that truth may be relative, and it has become much more difficult to argue that things are true – unless you are in a courtroom.

This is a real dichotomy that has opened up in our culture – something may be true for you even though a majority of people would not accept it, until we get into court and then there is simply truth that we have to swear to tell. Will we get to the point in time when the simple truth that a man stole something is blurred by the witness statement which may be true to the victim but not true to the perpetrator?

Is there such a thing as my truth or your truth? Aren’t we really talking about my perspective or yours – isn’t the truth higher than perspective? In fact the way we have dealt with issues of perspective for millennia has been by reasoned debate. Whereas we may no longer teach rhetoric in our schools as a stand-alone subject, we do risk major breakdown in society by stamping out debate, allowing perspective to be called truth which is in itself untouchable.

Truth demands absolutes e.g.it is absolutely wrong to murder. I recognise that you could argue that a woman who has been  subject to abuse for years that has impacted her mental health, who goes on to murder her husband is not as guilty as a woman who pre-planned it for the insurance money. This is why we have trained judges with years of experience who can unravel complex cases to decide on a correct sentence. But the truth of our law courts is that she is still guilty, but her punishment should fit the crime. However, in a relativistic culture that demands there can no longer be any absolutes the only thing that trips us up is saying so, because that is in itself an absolute, so the statement defeats our new truth by its reality.

I love my wife. That is the truth. It isn’t your truth, in fact I hope it isn’t in a way, but it is mine. However, for Christians, we are told to love one another, love the church, love our neighbours and even love our enemies, so whatever your standing point you should join me somewhere in loving my wife!  I would challenge you that whether you believe the teachings of Jesus or not, relativism is not a revelation but rather a mistake. We shouldn’t judge someone unless we have walked a mile in their shoes. But there again Jesus said that we shouldn’t be judgemental at all, always having in mind our own faults and that we also will have to give account of ourselves to God.

On our website under ‘values’ it says these words about this local church:

We value truth, honesty, integrity and authenticity. Jesus, the truth sets us free and lights up our life. We value the truth of the Bible, we want our worship to be authentic, we aim to live our lives with integrity and we speak honestly to each other. We believe in personal and corporate accountability which are never to be feared if you have strong relationships based on truth

John 14:6 Jesus told him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

Jesus is the physical manifestation of the Truth, if you like God’s truth.

For us we normally define telling the truth by a negative – by not telling lies. But for the Christian, Truth is not defined by a negative and is therefore much more than honesty, or not telling lies, but it is also about manifesting God’s truth to people, it is about living life the way Jesus wants, it is about telling people the truth of the gospel.

Sometimes even in church we may not tell everyone everything – mainly because not everyone wants to or needs to know the ‘back-office-issues’ – those matters which make the church look like it runs easily but are actually hard work. Sometimes we conceal things that are private, that no one has a right to know, but as a church we choose to avoid a culture of concealment, rather we err on the side of openness.

Even in some groups who call themselves church there is a tendency to suppress the truth:

Rom 1:18 For God's wrath is revealed from heaven against all godlessness and unrighteousness of people who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth

The Bible however suggest that we should grow into truth:

Eph 4:15 But speaking the truth in love, let us grow in every way into Him who is the head—Christ.

Truth in worship, truth in witness, truth in fellowship – these are all important values.

So, we will never deliberately cover anything up, unless it would be improper to reveal it!

That which we have been told in confidence remains in confidence unless there are legal reasons or risk to anyone else that require we pass information to the authorities.

Instead we encourage all the church to reveal that which should be known to all – the good news that Jesus has died for our sins and has risen from the dead to bring us life, and he will soon return to take us to a place he has prepared for us.

Eph 6:13-14 This is why you must take up the full armour of God, so that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having prepared everything, to take your stand. 14 Stand, therefore, with truth like a belt around your waist,

Truth holds your pants up!

1 Tim 2:3-6 God our Saviour, 4 who wants everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and man, a man, Christ Jesus, 6 who gave Himself—a ransom for all,  a testimony at the proper time.

Truth is not only like a light that dispels darkness, but it also reveals and lights up our lives. If we listen to the words of Jesus and act on them then we become lighthouses that helps keep everyone in range off the rocks!

Integrity

Titus 2:7-8 Set an example of good works yourself, with integrity and dignity in your teaching. 8 Your message is to be sound beyond reproach, so that the opponent will be ashamed, having nothing bad to say about us.

Ps 51:6 Surely You desire integrity in the inner self,

Integrity is a lifestyle of truth, where Christ the Truth lives out his truth within us, so that the world can see we do as Christ does and that our word is good, that there is consistency in our lives. It is so important to be consistent as Christians!

1 John 3:18 Little children, we must not love in word or speech, but in deed and truth. Integrity means that when we have got things wrong, we say so, we admit it, because we don’t want to devalue Jesus by our mistakes.

Authenticity

Authenticity is another aspect of truth. If you find an old painting in your loft you may take it to an expert to have it checked. If it’s an old master, it must be authenticated, if it’s an old fake we also need to know.

Our Worship should be authentic, our prayers should be authentic, our theology, our teaching should be authentic. Our love, our compassion, our willingness to help – all of these should be authentic too!

Accountability

If you are the real thing, then accountability is a key factor. We believe that the only one who doesn’t need to be accountable is God himself.

We are part of Ground Level – a national body or a relational network/ denomination to which we are accountable

We are part of One Voice – a local relational network to which we also make ourselves accountable

We are also subject to the Trustees of this church.

Our prime value has a great effect here. Relationality keeps you accountable – relational accountability!

Within the church there is also accountability. We don’t push ‘authority’ very hard, but when there are issues the Pastor or the leadership team will deal with them but we avoid heavy shepherding.

Ultimately, we all will stand before God, but that doesn’t mean we can do exactly what we want in church! – But there is a lot of grace!

Rom 14:10-12 For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. 11 For it is written: As I live, says the Lord, every knee will bow to Me, and every tongue will give praise to God. 12 So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.

Today may I introduce you to the truth? Jesus loves you, died for you to forgive your failures and wants to strike up a real living relationship with you now…will you pray with me?