“What is truth?!” This infamous rhetorical statement made by Pontius Pilate before he ceremoniously washed his hands of the guilt of Jesus’ crucifixion is a dilemma each of us also face. What, indeed, is truth? Is it relative–does it depend on your particular perspective and thus vary–or can it be objectively determined so you can conclusively and without a doubt–and, without any partiality–know that you are correct?
“Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist…” (Ephesians 6:14 NIV)
Truth is so important, that the writer of Ephesians compares it to the belt of a Roman soldier–it is what holds everything else together, and without it everything else falls. Many believe they know the truth, and some even go so far as to give their lives for it, but does one’s level of conviction determine the degree of truthfulness? Certainly not, because people with diametrically opposed views–Muslims and Christians, for example–have sacrificed their lives for what they believed. So, if firmly held conviction cannot be used as a gauge of truthfulness, what can? The answer is that only the revealed Word of God, which we call the Holy Bible, can.
Because the strongest religious tradition in our modern Western World is Christianity, we are typically thrown off-kilter when confronted with opposing beliefs, but there have always been challenges to the authority of the true God. In the early church, the writers took to identifying which God they were referring to by prefacing it with “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ;” later on, Christians began capitalizing the word “god” to indicate whom they were referring to (a convention that is increasingly being lost, because of the extra keystroke and because spellchecks frequently un-capitalize it). So, we should not be surprised by the presence of opposing beliefs others believe true: our world is big, and there have been–almost from the beginning–those who reject or do not know the true God.
But other religions are not the only challenges to truth. The biggest challenge to the authority of God has always and will always be the rebellious spirit of man–we simply want to believe and do what we want to believe and do. This is why, when confronted with sin, you will often hear comments like, “But I’m not that bad of a person, am I?” We do not want to submit to the authority of God, but we want affirmation that we aren’t really that bad. Yet the truth–the objective truth–is that apart from Christ, we are all bad.
The biggest danger I see is not a challenge from Islam, Pantheism, Buddhism, Hinduism or other pagan religions–these are false religions. God tells us that those who worship other so-called “gods” are really worshipping demons–“Do I mean then that food sacrificed to an idol is anything, or that an idol is anything? No, but the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons.” (1 Corinthians 10:19-20 NIV) God calls His people to spread the good news of the new birth and forgiveness through Christ to them. “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20 NIV) And He is amazing! Record numbers of Muslims are coming to faith because of the activity of ISIS/ISIL, for example. He can and does use even the evil of men to call to Himself those who seems most resistant to faith through the Gospel of Jesus!
No, the biggest danger I see to truth is from within the Christian community itself. The Apostle Paul dealt with the same issue in the first century church, and gave specific instructions how to deal with this:
“I wrote you in my earlier letter not to associate with those who sin sexually. But I did not mean you should not associate with those of this world who sin sexually, or with the greedy, or robbers, or those who worship idols. To get away from them you would have to leave this world. I am writing to tell you that you must not associate with those who call themselves believers in Christ but who sin sexually, or are greedy, or worship idols, or abuse others with words, or get drunk, or cheat people. Do not even eat with people like that. It is not my business to judge those who are not part of the church. God will judge them. But you must judge the people who are part of the church. The Scripture says, “You must get rid of the evil person among you.”” (1 Corinthians 5:9-13 NCV)
Jesus said “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its salty taste, it cannot be made salty again. It is good for nothing, except to be thrown out and walked on.” (Matthew 5:13 NCV)
If we, the followers of Jesus, give away the truth, if we are no longer the standard-bearers, if we lose our saltiness, the distinctiveness of the truth of God–and mind you, the Word of God is distinctive–what will the unsaved, the rest of the world, know of Christ, of truth?! I am always frightened when “Christianity” becomes too politically correct, too common, too much like what everyone else believes. Jesus said “…small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” GMatthew 7:14 NIV)
This doesn’t mean the path is hidden; it just means that if your beliefs line up with that of the bulk of humanity, you’re probably no longer on the narrow road that leads to life, which only a few find.
So, what is truth, and is it firmly buckled around your waist, holding everything else up? Or, have you been deceived, believing what many merely want to be true and are trying to convince themselves is true? Wanting something to be true does not make it true. Be the standard-bearer, stand for the truth–even if it is hard! You CAN “do all things through Christ who strengthens” you!!! Ultimately, remember that it is Jesus Himself who is “…the way and the truth and the life…” (John 14:6 NIV) Do not turn away from Him!
Help me be blessed because I endure temptation (to turn from the purity of the truth of Your Word); when I have been approved, help me receive the crown of life which You have promised to those who love You! (James 1:12 ) Amen.