On Thursdays I take a breath and stand on a scale. After a few seconds I see a number judging my success, or lack thereof, for the previous week. I either met a goal, or I didn’t. Whatever the case, I’m really good at justifying the results.
But the scale doesn’t lie. It is what it is.
Truth occupies a territory we all want. It means credibility and honesty. It divides through joints and marrow, getting to the point. The speaker of it carries a position of respect, as opposed to those who don’t.
Truth is beautiful. Yet, it can be ugly. It reveals things we’d rather remain hidden. It can shatter a pristine image built carefully with each Facebook post. And though truth is concrete, at times it can feel slippery. This becomes clear with the number of competing media today, all claiming to stand for it.
I had a recent conversation with my daughter about this. A freshman in high school, she encounters a lot of opinions from teachers and peers alike, especially when it comes to culture and our incoming president.
Don’t trust a headline, I tell her. Consider the source. Media outlets today (yes, including The Index) pay attention to what gets clicks. The tension exists between covering topics proven to get more attention versus stories just as worthy of coverage, if not as friendly to analytics. The sellouts, on both the Left and Right, aren’t difficult to spot.
And that’s where the importance of truth lies now. It’s critical, in fact, for those claiming to follow Jesus to get this right.
Jesus wasn’t the only teacher in His day. His occupation didn’t make him a threat, truth did. Same for John the Baptist. A preacher sporting a camel hair ensemble while snacking on locusts in the wilderness may have been unique, but those things, in themselves, didn’t worry religious or government leaders. Declaring one group to be vipers and calling out Herod’s unlawful marriage to his brother’s wife placed John in a cell, and eventually before an executioner.
When this topic of truth comes up in church circles the discussion often goes to Christ standing before Pilate. After some questions by the Roman prefect, Jesus responds, “… I have come into the world – to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.”
Pilate responds with a question that feels like a statement – “What is truth?” He then turns and walks back to face the crowd.
I’d like to think it was an earnest question, especially considering Pilate had the one individual in history who could’ve given him a straight answer. The man Pilate dismissed as just a teacher was without prejudice or bias. He was the epitome of truth.
Instead, it seems Pilate saw truth the way many do today. The people outside clamoring for the teacher’s death had their version. So did the religious leaders. Of course, Pilate’s came through his own government.
And now, social media has become the rocket booster for us wanting articles supporting our own bias, our own truth. Individuals seize upon this. As such, a cottage industry for news stories heavily slanted, when not outright lies, feeds on the sin of self-justification.
I’m not immune from that sin. At football games for my alma mater, Jacksonville State University in Jacksonville, AL, I’ll feel it necessary, from time to time, to point out to the referee where he missed a call. He’s far away, so I have to yell. Later on, despite my vow to eat healthier, I’ll celebrate a win with a big plate of wings from Jefferson’s (That practice seems to follow losses as well, I notice.).
That’s my truth, not the truth. It’s possible, I guess, that the defensive end for my beloved Gamecocks didn’t have to grind the quarterback’s head into the turf of Burgess Field at Paul Snow Stadium.
More than ever, truth is currency. Today, admitting when you’re wrong brings as much credibility as claiming you’re right because so few do it. Of course, if you’re making that admission a lot there’s a problem. Either you’re not standing up for truth, or you’re not taking the time to look for it in the first place.
And where is truth? Start with John 14:6. We’re imperfect people, but in Scripture we find the way, the truth, and the life through Jesus.
He is who He is.