Why Bother With Truth?
Please enjoy this reflection by Jose Philip which appeared on RZIM September Seasonal Update, on the importance of truth in today’s culture.
I was recently asked to speak on the topic, “Do all paths lead to the same God?” and, as part of my research, I decided to survey popular opinion. I wanted to know if people actually believed that it was possible for all religions to be essentially the same. I was both pleasantly surprised and deeply troubled by what I found. Surprised because it did not take much to spark a conversation on the topic. On one occasion when I was in a public space, I typed the words “Why would anyone believe that all religions lead to the same God…” on my computer and, before long, the person sitting next to me asked, “Why not!” Yet, the disregard for truth that lurked in the shadows of the sincerity and relative ease with which people concluded that their opinion is true, was troubling.
We live in a time where opinion matters more than truth. My right to my opinions; no matter how unfounded they are, and, to be heard; no matter what I say, is seen by the vast majority as far more important than the responsibility to know and live by the truth. After all, why would anyone want to “waste time” seeking to know what can be made up? If truth is relative, then, as one of my conversation partners put it, “Why make a big deal about your truth? I don’t about mine.”
“Some say Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets,” was how the disciples answered Jesus in Caesarea Philippi when he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” The disciples’ response is a commentary on the fact that Jesus will always be variedly understood and sorely misunderstood if we are to settle for public or popular opinion about him. Thankfully, the conversation did not end with human opinion. Jesus was not going to settle for human opinions shaping his identity. He pressed them, “But what about you?” … “Who do you say I am?” And when Peter confessed that Jesus was the “Christ, the Son of the living God,” Jesus applauded him for having caught a glimpse of the truth. Jesus did not praise Peter for having come up with this; he could not have! Peter was commended, even chastised, on account of who he was listening to (Matthew 16:21-23).
So here is where we must start if we are to know Jesus — revelation! It pays to be reminded that outside of God revealing himself we will be hopelessly trapped in the speculation of our imaginations. In John 5:39, we see Jesus himself make it plain that the Scriptures testify to him. Yet, as it was for the Jew of his day, so even today, every departure from the “real” Jesus begins with a disregard for God’s revealed word. It is the Holy Spirit who leads us into all truth concerning Jesus (John 16:13) So, let the angel’s reminder to John concerning the Scriptures and Jesus be ours as well: “the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Revelation 19:10).
Historically, the line between orthodoxy and heresy is drawn by the answer to the question, “Who do you say I am?” As it is in history, so it will be for all eternity; the line between eternal life and eternal damnation will be drawn by our response to the question, “Who do you say I am?” Why make a big deal about the truth concerning Jesus of Nazareth? Simply because our response does not change his identity, it changes our destiny.
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