So Jesus said to them, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me. And he who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to him. As he was saying these things, many believed in him. Jesus therefore was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you abide in my word then you are truly disciple of mine. And you shall know the truth and the truth will set you free
– John 8:28-32
Truth is a moving target in our culture. People want to define their own truth and shape it like a shadow in the night. It is often fuzzy, self-serving and the truth that I demand of others is often not the same truth I am willing to submit to. People have a hard time living within their own rules.
I happen to talk with a person the other day who had a pretty wide open but superficial perspective of truth. He had a bit of a mouth on him but claimed to believe in Jesus and went to church. I asked him what kind of church he attended. His answer: a unity church.
He went on to explain that he thought that every religion had good stuff in it. He talked about his sister who had joined the Moron church and it had dramatically changed the way she lived. Her experience seemed to validate the goodness of that religion. But he was adamant that every religion, including Christianity had some good things in it. He proposed that Jesus taught us how to be nicer to one another and set a great example of how to care for people, especially those that do not fit the norm in our cultural paradigm.
It was at this point that I told him that I was a pastor which took him back a bit. He acknowledge that I probably knew more about this stuff about Jesus than he did, to which I said that was probably true. He kept trying to convince me that every religion has some good and no one group can claim that they are the only ones who have the right answers or truth itself. I commented that since a number of the religions strong contradict one another they all can’t be right. He sought to justify that since different people created religions then none of them have all the answers. We simply need to take the best from each one and work harder at helping one another.
I won’t go into the whole conversation but this is a good example of the need to know truth. When we interact with others, many people want to be nice, think the best of people and create their own truth. It is the “let’s just get along” theology and if you know anything about a unity church that is their call to unity and peace – everyone is basically good, every religion can contribute something to the betterment of our culture and world.
Sounds nice but the problem is that religion does tend to be man-made. I proposed to him that I was not committed to religion at all and even Jesus tore down the hypocrisy of the religion of the Pharisees and Scribes (Matthew 23; Colossians 2:16-23). Religion has some attraction to it because it looks like it is aimed at doing what is good and true. But when everyone gets to pick and choose the truth that works for them it can be self-deceiving. They may figure out a way to journey through life that they feel is viable but at the end of the road they need to stand before Christ. The great fear is that there are going to be people who say, Lord, Lord, look at all we did for you! Look at all these amazing things we did for others! Unfortunately, the greater danger is that Jesus will say that He never knew them.
We should also notice that this is one of those passages that even Jesus does not claim His own authority. He only does, and therefore submits to His Father and the truth that the Father establishes for life here on this planet.
If Christ did not even establish His own authority and define truth, even though I suspect that He could have done that and been in perfect harmony with the Father, He choose to submit to His Father’ truth and direction (John 5:19, 30).
Some guidelines about knowing truth:
- The first priority of knowing truth is to personally obey it.If most of us gave our whole attention to dealing with the inconsistencies in our own life we would do well. There ought to be great personal fulfillment and joy for the one who discovers the richness and blessing for those who learn to submit to the Father, rejoice in the Son and walk with the Spirit.
- The second priority of knowing truth is to answer questions about our own faith.Knowing truth is about personally growing in understanding the kindness of God toward us. God has every right to judge and execute punishment on sinful humanity but He desires all to be saved. Knowing and obeying truth reflects true love for God and Jesus promised to reciprocate that love and reveal Himself to us. Obedience is a way to go deeper in relationship with Christ.
- The third priority of knowing truth is that it will provide and protect us. God’s Word indicates that obedience purifies our life so that we indicates that when we obey the truth we purify our life (1 Peter 1:22-23). This gives us the opportunity to learn to love one another the way God has called us to love each other.
- The fourth priority of knowing truth is to encourage others to obey it.There are too many people who learn truth to judge others and point out what is wrong in their life. But God has warned us about judging others (James 4:11-12). Of course is it easy to judge others when we have not talked with them and understood better why they are acting the way they are choosing to act. Judging people from a distance is easy, we can only love them up close. We are to constantly encourage people in this journey. The Christian life is tough enough without the people who ought to love us are now dumping on our failures or inconsistencies.
- The fifth priority of knowing truth is to give an answer to those who question or challenge our beliefs. We are admonished to have an answer to those who ask for an explanation for the hope that is in us (1 Peter 3:15). But even this is to be done with gentleness and reverence. We are called to always have a good conscience no matter if we disagree with those who do not believe the same thing we do.
- The six priority of knowing truth is making room for personal convictions. This is usually were churches get into minor scuffles among their members. Everyone has different convictions that they may hold with more passion that others. They may be convinced that if everyone did things the way they believed then everyone would be better off. Paul mentions this that one person will esteem one day as better than another, while another person esteems all days alike; each one is to be fully convinced in their own mind(Romans 14:5). Unfortunately, this often circles around worship, money and ministry. This does not mean the truth is relative but that we may have different convictions about how the way things are being done. One person is convinced that their way is the only way they would ever do something, which is fine. But if that person feels they everyone has to do it their way then conflict is inevitable and the danger of collateral damage to relationships is often possible.
In His grace,