The problem of truth


Truth is not a problem.

But that is the problem.

“You’re talking in riddles, David.” I can hear you saying it!

Let me try to explain.

When Jesus encountered the value system that had the power to set him free, it all boiled down to an issue of truth.

Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor of Judea, was interested in power. And so he posed the question to Jesus: “Are you the king of the Jews?” What he meant, of course, was this: “Are you planning an uprising against me?”

Jesus wasn’t even thinking along these lines. And so he told Pilate his kingdom was not of this world. If it had been, his followers would already have been fighting in the streets.

This puzzled Pilate. And so he put the question to Jesus: “So you are a king?” Jesus didn’t bother to dignify Pilate’s question with an answer, which was extraordinary, given that his life apparently hung in Pilate’s hands.

His answer was this: “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world - to bear witness to the truth.”

Pilate’s answer, to me, is one of the greatest attestations to the accuracy of the New Testament. He said this: “What is truth?”

Pilate was reflecting the beginnings of the decline of Roman civilization. He had given up on truth. And we know that’s an accurate picture of where many of the Romans were at - and certainly cynical, disillusioned and corrupt politicians like Pilate, which is the picture Roman historians paint of him.

We live in a very similar world today.

For Jesus, and hence for those of us who follow him, truth is not a problem. God alone reserves the right to define truth and falsehood, right and wrong, good and evil.

But we live in a world Pontius Pilate would have been right at home in. Laughingly, we call it “post-modern,” when in fact it is as ancient as Pilate himself.

Pilate was bothered by Jesus’ answer - but not bothered enough to take a stand against the Jewish leaders and let him go. For him, truth did not matter. And that is why when he saw the personal embodiment of truth standing in front of him, he did not recognize it.

For the world we live in, truth is a problem. In fact, a massive problem.

Our culture demands that every possible personal preference or orientation be accommodated. Everyone lives in their own personal space as far as truth is concerned. In reality, no one is really interested in truth at all. What they are really interested in is the promotion of their own interests.

Here’s the catch. In the absence of truth, anything goes. But what happens when the interests of one group are hostile to the interests of another?

I’ll tell you exactly what happens. The group with the most power forces its interests on the others.

In the absence of truth, might becomes right.

Those with the most clout gain privilege at the expense of those with the least.

But Christians see things differently. Or at least they ought to.

Our world is living in a mass delusion. The delusion is this: everyone can have their own “truth,” and it won’t cause any problems. The reality is different. The “truth” belonging to the people with the most power will prevail.

In truth, it isn’t about truth at all. It’s about the power to force my views on everyone else.

But as Christians, we believe in real truth. We are interested in truth for the sake of truth, because we follow the man who said: “You shall know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”

We believe only God has the right to define truth. And Jesus is the only man who ever completely lived it.

That is a problem to the world around us, with its many interest groups trying to force their views on everyone else, to their own benefit.

Jesus stood for truth, and he died for truth.

How about you?