What is truth?
Pilate asked that question before he washed his hands clean of the guilt of crucifying Jesus.
But he is not the only one.
Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth. — Marcus Aurelius
If this was a man’s belief in the first century, perhaps the notion that we can choose our own truth isn’t as new as we think it is. Certain politicians may lean on it (a lot) more than others, but apparently truth bending and fact creation has been with us since, well, since a snake in a garden said, “Nah, that’s not at all what God told you. I know.”
And if we need more evidence, consider the eerily accurate prophecy of a famous futuristic writer:
The very concept of objective truth is fading out of the world. Lies will pass into history. — George Orwell
As we’ve been discussing truth here for the last month, and as the world has been discussing truth and lies and “fake news” and “alternative facts,” it’s easy to wonder where to look for facts that are not created by the whim of fallible humans with an agenda to push.
What is truth, indeed?
While we scurry around looking, let’s look at one great aspect of truth we often forget.
Truth is a person.
I AM the way and the truth and the life. — John 14.6
This is truth on a whole new level. We are used to truth as an idea. Truth as a set of rules. Truth as a logical explanation, like those proofs we had to do in freshman geometry. (I loved proofs. I find I am in the distinct minority for this affection.)
But truth as a person? A god-person? How do we even wrap our heads around that?
If Jesus IS the truth, then all searching for truth ends in him. All that I don’t understand is clear through the truth I can know. All things that claim to be truth have to be held up next to the one life that WAS truth.
If they waver next to Him, they aren’t true.
See, I think God knew that we would need truth with skin on. I think He knew we would never understand the truth until we met it. In person. I think that once we fall in love with a true life, we will recognize it whenever and wherever we see it. We will settle for no less.
We can hold all the rules, create dozens of propositions, and read systematic theology cover to cover. (Trust me, I have.) In end, though, here’s the thing. It is we who must be true, not static words and rules. This is the most important thing truth does for us.
Truth gives us a relationship where we discover true living
We needed to see a true life to live a true life. In relationship with the Truth, we discover true living. The closer we get to him, closer we get to being true people.
Being true people is more important than knowing truth.
One day in high school I looked at a friend and thought to myself, I don’t know all the details about God, but I know the truth about him is there. Right there, in her.
She lived a true life.
I want the kind of life that others will see and say—I’m not sure what truth is, but I know it when I see it. And I see it there.
When we live lives of truth, cascading with transparency and integrity, Jesus tells us we will be telios—complete, lacking nothing, at peace. Can you imagine the effect of that kind of truth on others?
This is the biggest reason truth is important. Because truth is a person. Truth is a relationship. Knowing that person, having that relationship, gives us true lives, something far more valuable than any win in any debate I ever entered or score on any apologetics test I ever took.
When we are confused by alternative facts, fake news, and subjective but vehement opinions, remember. Hold it up to the One who lived true. Can it stay there? Or does it wither away next to the Way, the Truth, and the Life?
We can handle the truth because the Truth made himself ultimately handleable—to be in flesh and blood and skin and sweat what we needed. He made Truth accessible.