Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Does Truth Matter Any More?


I grew up asking "why" and "how do we know that's true?" It was maddening to teachers and family alike, but I've always have a yearning to "know for sure." 

It's one thing to be certain about the distance of a star, but it's another thing entirely to stake my life and my future on something I believe. In matters of eternity, I want to be as sure as possible that I have truth.

It's odd to me that not everyone cares as deeply about what's true and what's not.

A couple of "missionaries" stopped by my house recently. They wanted to talk "Bible" with me, and proceeded to tell me about what their Bible said. They were very polite and friendly, so I listened. They had so much wrong, though, that I finally had to speak.

They chose 1 Peter 3, a passage I know pretty well. I hesitated, but finally said, "I'm pretty sure that's not what 1 Peter 3 says."

"Oh, yes ma'am. It does."

"Let me get my Bible."

After I showed them 1 Peter, they tackled another passage and tried to explain it to me.

"Let me show you that in the original language." I opened the Interlinear Bible from BlueLetterBible.org and showed them the Greek. "See, it doesn't mean what you say at all." I explained the passage.

They tried again. "We think it says..." 

Finally, I explained, "It doesn't matter what you think. All that matters is truth. I know truth, and I'm happy to share it with you, but you need to decide whether you want what you think or what's true."

They didn't know what to say, so they left.

When I was at the Garden Tomb recently, the guide told us an interesting fact that disputed the "truth" I thought I knew, most of it obtained from singing a favorite hymn. I can hear the song in my head as I type. "On a hill called Mount Calvary..." 

She said Jesus probably wasn't crucified on the top of the hill. The Romans did their crucifixions beside the road leading into the city so that more people could see the criminals hanging there. The shame was supposed to act as a deterrent. 

This has been confirmed by the number of bones and archeological findings at the foot of the hill, along the roadside. Most likely, the guide said, the crucifixion actually occurred by the road at the foot of the place called Golgatha.

The lyrics should, more accurately say, "By a hill called Mount Calvary..." 

I was a little disappointed to learn I've held the wrong view for the better part of a century, especially since I learned so much theology from singing hymns.

There's one hymn that nailed the theology, though. Ryan and I would sing it together when he was a little boy.

I'd sing, "What can wash away my sin?"

He'd sing his response, "Nothing but the blood of Jesus."

Though our sins be as scarlet, that precious blood washes them white as snow. (Isaiah 1:18) It doesn't matter how much wrong we've done, the Blood is powerful enough to pay the penalty.

There's a bit of truth we sometimes forget. It doesn't matter what the worst person we know has done, the Blood is powerful enough to cover their sin, too. 

That truth changes how we see people, or it should. 

I have a friend who says we're either Christian or "pre-Christian." He bases those categories on 2 Peter 3:9. "...instead, he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance." 2 Peter 3:9 niv No matter who He meets, he treats them as a potential brother/sister in Christ.

That's truth in action.

Is that how we see others, especially the people with whom we disagree or those who've harmed us or those we love? 

Is that how we treat them?

We learned these truths as children, and they're still true today:

God is love. (1 John 4:8)

God loved the world so much that He gave His only Son that anyone who believed in Him would not go to Hell, but would live in heaven forever. (from John 3:16)

We can't have it both ways. What's true is true all the time, not only when it's convenient to us. When we know truth, we're supposed to obey it, all the time. 

Today, let's make sure we embrace the truth and live what we know. God loves everyone, and we should, too. 

"Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love." 1 John 4:8
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