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21 Days of Seeking - Day 3

Truth.  An amazing concept that has been debated for thousands of years, all the way back to the beginning of time.  I read the story the other day about the failure of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3) and saw that even there, the truth was a problem.

You see, truth is a problem for a lot of folks.  Over the years I've heard dozens of colloquialisms about the truth or lack of it.  One of my favorites is, "he is such a liar that he would rather climb a tree to tell a lie, than to stay on the ground and tell the truth.

On this, the third day of 21 Days of Seeking,   On day one I spoke about the need for the power of the Holy Spirit and on day two spent a little bit of time to the subject of grace...now, let's consider the thought of TRUTH.  I want to take a little time and quite a bit of space to touch on this subject.  This is a long read, so please give yourself time to read it all the way through.

Any dictionary will probably tell you that truth means accord with a fact or reality or faithfulness to a certain ideal.  TRUTH is actually a reciprocal of falsehood, or as my favorite colloquialism says, "a lie." Now the TRUTH is (no pun intended) that it is mostly the fields of Philosophy/Sociology or Religion that takes this up most for argument's sake, but that is only because it is a "given" in areas of science, the law and other interactive fields.  While mostly language is used to express/deny truth is is the primary source, my time as a criminal investigator and subsequently as a minister has shown me that body language can be a dead give-a-way when someone is skirting the TRUTH.

Without going into the debate over whether it is objective or subjective, most people struggle with the question of whether it is absolute or geared to the situation you might be in at the time.  Remember our first President, General George Washington?  Throughout my childhood I was taught in school that when it was learned that he chopped down a cherry tree and confronted about it, his reply was, "I cannot tell a lie, I chopped down the cherry tree."  In my adult years while in college, that story was questioned as to its verity (another word for TRUTH).  There are those whose idea of TRUTH is situational...depending on the situation or outcome of it, their story could change.

I've personally spend my life intrigued that five people can see and hear the exact same thing and then testify to five different accounts of what happened.  I later realized it is because of their world view...or how they see life.  You see, we are the sum total of our life experience and environment and for the most part cannot change the past.

Our English language word for TRUTH basically meant comes from multiple languages that meant mostly the same thing: faith, word of honor, religious faith, loyalty, honesty, and my favorite verity (Veritas in Latin) etc.  If you really want to dig into all of that, study the writings of like Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle."
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To some folks, TRUTH is what they believe at a given moment.  This type of TRUTH is what some of us struggle with the most because of our decision-making process.  For instance, I make decisions based on the provable facts I have at any given moment.  I may make a decision about something only to find out more facts later that may prove the decision could have been better.  In reality, you can only do the best you can with the best facts you have available at the time the decision is made.  That makes information gathering a very, very important part of the process.  This is what leads people to say, "if I had only known "X" I would have made a different decision.

Then there are the "if, then" thoughts of logic.  If I do this, then this will happen, or if I do that, something else will happen.  This process causes us to make decisions based on an outcome-based desire.  While this may seem to be a good way to do things or to make decisions, is it really the best? Doesn't this assume we know it all and can perfectly predict the future?  I don't think so.  Most preachers face this type of reasoning on the thought, "if I preach on this subject, I will lose people from my congregation." Or, "if I give someone an appointment, they will keep coming to church." I've seen both approaches blow up on people.

What about TRUTH being whatever is decided by a group?  For over one hundred years our church has decided that when the General Assembly gathers, we will decide what the TRUTH of Scripture is to be.  One of our former General Overseers actually used an illustration to change the meaning of a word by saying, "so let it be that the word ******* means."  Generations were affected by this man's decision to change the meaning of the word, and then that group (and succeeding ones) accepting this man's interpretation of ONE word to shape the future of generations, although dictionaries gave a different meaning.  If we are not careful, we will repeat this error. 

Another problem I have seen about TRUTH can actually be lost in translation.  Several-years ago I was listening to a man address a crowd in the English language. His interpreter translated what he said into Spanish, only to be challenged by someone in the crowd who said, "I happen to know BOTH languages and what you just interpreted is NOT what the man said."  Well, I presumed the man interpreting was fluent in both languages or else why would he be chosen to translate something in the first place?  I will never know what was interpreted, but I DO KNOW what I heard in my language.  My travels have taught me that there are some things that just don't translate...therefore, we have a problem.  Shouldn't TRUTH be the same no matter where it is communicated?  Hopefully you can readily see the problem with this.

I could go on and on, but I see your eyelids are starting to close.  

TRUTH? I could list a dozen philosophers that couldn't agree on the most basic of things, but they all thought they were speaking TRUTH, but there is one that I would like to point out to make my next point.  Alfred North Whitehead, a British mathematician said:  "There are no whole truths; all truths are half-truths.  It is trying to treat them as whole truths that play the devil."  The problem with Mr. Whitehead's view is that the TRUTH can lie, because half-truths are deceptive and could in theory lead to a false conclusion....thus, he is saying the TRUTH can be a LIE. 

So, in conclusion (this is where people say "Thank you Jesus" during one of my sermons) I believe that we must ask God, our heavenly Father to help us to know truth.  The Scripture plainly speaks of Jesus that He is the way, the TRUTH and the life (John 14) and that it is the TRUTH that sets us free.  We cannot live our lives believing a lie, we must be honest people who tell the TRUTH without be sworn to do so.

"Father, I pray for everyone who reads this post today.  I ask you to help us to understand and to know the TRUTH.  We want to know Jesus and we want to know how to live honest lives filled with TRUTH.  We can only do that through your help, your guidance and your Word.  We want to be FREE!"  Amen.

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