One of the real complications in dealing with the COVID pandemic is knowing who and what to believe about it. With confidence in government at a low point, early on many Americans rejected guidelines. Even the simple choice about wearing masks has turned, for millions, into a way to make a statement about their politics. In restricting association and commerce in an effort to limit the spread of the contagion, the government ran head-long into an American ideal of freedom.
Because the ‘truth’ was suspect, millions of Americans refused compliance with recommendations while others chose to do costly and largely unnecessary things. Our inability to agree about what is true meant that thousands died who might have lived and our economy has suffered a heavy blow. A year into this mess and many of us are still trying to figure out what is true!
Truth is freedom. Knowing what is true – that can be the hard part, right? Remember Pilate’s famed question of Jesus as He stood before that governor? When asked Who He was and what His mission was, Jesus told him that He was sent into the world to “testify to the truth.” Pilate cynically asked, “What is truth?” (John 18:37)
Some Christians choose to deal with the vagaries of life by adopting a kind of faith that stakes out an accepted position on all things. “We have a rule for that,” they insist. Often a proof text or two from the Bible is sufficient for to establish the ‘truth.’ Their world is a place of right and wrong, black and white, period; end of discussion.
While there is some comfort found in assuming ‘we know the truth, the whole truth,’ eventually life will bring some experience, some encounter that does not fit neatly into the boxes. What then? Too often instead of a gentle and gracious conversation that allows understanding to ripen, those who claim to know the truth lecture the questioning person to “just trust God!” That line, I learned a long time ago, often means ‘we don’t know how to answer that and stick with our system of truth so we don’t talk about it.’
Christians can be people, indeed they should be, of strong convictions. I am totally committed to the reality of a personal God, Who made Himself known in Jesus Christ. I am thoroughly convinced that Jesus is the Christ, the Savior of the world, the ‘Way, the Truth, and the Life.’ I believe that the Holy Spirit is alive in me and all Christians, leading us to know and do the will of God. I do not waver in my conviction that life is a sacred gift, that love is our highest calling, that eternity awaits me when this sojourn on the planet comes to an end. Jesus Christ is the true North of my life.
And then there are those ‘other questions.’ Yes, there are plenty things that I will readily admit that I do not completely understand. I am not a blank slate without opinions but I am prepared to have a conversation that is honest and aimed at increasing knowledge, not winning an argument! One of the most liberating things I have discovered in dealing with Truth is that being a ‘good Christian’ does not require me to have an answer for all questions. It is perfectly acceptable to say – “I do not know.” Great faith includes living with mystery.
A God that I can squeeze into all of my preconceptions is too small, too tame for the real world. Paul declares – “Oh, what a wonderful God we have! How great are his riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his methods! For who can know what the Lord is thinking? Who knows enough to be his counselor?” (Romans 11:33-34, NLT)
That admission of my insufficiency is not an excuse for apathy, laziness, or avoidance of hard truth. God invites to know, equipped with the ability to reason and think. Both science and theology should exist to pursue the same thing: the Truth! Both are hindered in the effort when we bring an agenda to our study, having already reached a conclusion and now looking for support for our thoughts. The discovery of the truth – be it about physical laws of the universe or spiritual laws about pleasing God – brings great benefit to those who align themselves with it. Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32, NIV)
Christian, let’s renew our commitment to be a student of the Scripture, a person who loves God enough to seek to know Him, to know His ways, to live in the truth. Beware of the deception that grows out of a mind nearly closed because of fear or being tradition bound! Jesus’ most ardent enemies were leaders of the people who thought of themselves as protectors of the faith. But their ability to know the truth was corrupted by insistence on maintaining their accepted traditions, which led to their refusal to know the Spirit’s moving.
One of those leaders did come to Jesus seeking to know God and His ways. I love how Jesus spoke to Nicodemus. “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” (John 3:8, NIV) He cautioned that learned man about concluding that all of God’s ways in the human heart could be reduced to formulas!
Are you pursuing God, letting Him lead where He will? Is your mind and your heart open to Him, loving Him with deep faith? Here’s Truth to live by today. Meditate on it and take the deep assurance offered by the Word with you into a world full of uncertainty. “When he (the Counselor, the Holy Spirit) comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment . . . he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you.” (John 16:8,13-14, NIV)
Be Thou my vision
O Lord of my heart
Naught be all else to me
Save that Thou art
Thou my best thought
By day or by night
Waking or sleeping
Thy presence my light
Be Thou my Wisdom and
Thou my true Word
I ever with Thee and
Thou with me Lord
Thou my great Father
I Thy true son
Thou in me dwelling and
I with Thee one
High King of heaven
When vict’ry is won
May I reach heaven’s joys
O bright heaven’s Sun
Heart of my own heart
Still be my vision
O Ruler of all
Eleanor Henrietta Hull | Mary Elizabeth Byrne
© Words: Public Domain