A particular text has stuck with me ever since I read it as a youngster. It’s found in John 18. Jesus is talking and he ends with this:
“…Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” (v. 37)
Pilate said to Him, “What is truth?” And when he had said this, he went out again to the Jews, and said to them, “I find no fault in Him at all.” (v. 38)
The question is haunting to me. “What is truth?” And while it’s fine to go and look at the dictionary definition, one doesn’t have to be a master of social cues to know that Pilate is getting at something far deeper here. He’s asking, essentially, if such a thing exists. This is the question that haunts me, but not because I question that it exists. I have no doubt that objective reality exists and that perceptions are informed, however imperfectly, by something that is not perception. I can demonstrate this idea as needed. The challenge I have is… what, actually is truth?
The popular reaction is to say that truth is different things to different people. Instead of addressing the idea of objective truth, we pre-emptively reject any such statement as the truth of the speaker, and not necessarily applicable to anyone else. This protects us from those who wish to impose their perceptions on us, but it also insults us from anything that is objectively true. Because if truth is simply made up of the sum of other people’s truths, then anything that has not been seen is not truth, and anything that has been seen is personal truth.
The knee-jerk Bible quote is John 14:6: “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life.”
This is a statement is not explained. I think if we sit back and look at it, it looks like some pretty words. Even in context, he’s responding to a question about following him to Heaven. This is pretty extensively explained how Christ is both our example and atonement and path to righteousness. He even restates his identity as the life and resurrection elsewhere, showing himself to be the source of life and John 1 even begins with him being the source of creation and all the life in it. But this truth thing doesn’t get the same kind of obvious exhaustive examination.
As a note, I ask these questions because I find that study and examination of God’s word often leads to some revelation about life that is real and present and often overlooked. In this case, consider how we use the phrases:
“Tell me the facts.”
“Tell me the truth.”
I think you’ll find that facts are used to combat ignorance. Truth is used to combat lies. The truth stands in opposition to something. Facts simply are what they are. Imagine a video or an article called “The Truth About X.” Does that give you a sense of conflict? What about “Facts about X”? Does it ring the same? Why or why not?
Consider again what Jesus says “of the truth.” He does not say that people who tell the truth hear my voice. In fact, I would suspect that none of us always tell the truth, and that all of us sometimes do. Instead, he invokes the idea of being ‘of’ the truth, as though the truth is your identity, origin or orientation. And if the truth is your identity, then nothing else is. No other perception or bias can be one’s basis, because it will constantly be in opposition to the truth.
Certainly, one may still be identified as man, woman, Black, White, American, Japanese, etc. But every perspective contains some lies, some misbeliefs, some error. I suspect you’ve had times when you’ve come to understand that one of your personal truths has been harmful and incorrect. If this personal truth is tied to your self-identity, then the actual truth may be devasting to your ego and world outlook. Often our personal truths imprison us; even when we know they are wrong, they become hard to let go of.
Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.
Would you like to be free? Join the one Person who has always stood against the lies that imprison you, to your own perspective if nothing else. Because the world is so much more than just your perspective. There is truth out there, and if that is what you want to identify with, it is incredibly freeing. You won’t be able to list it. In fact, the only way you’ll be able to share the truth with someone is finding out what lies they believe.
And the biggest truth of all? Jesus. Man. God. Living. Loving. An actual person. And he’s talking to you right now.
Can you hear his voice yet?