The Value of Knowing The Truth
It Will Set You Free...To Do What?
I write because I want to help people (and myself!)—especially people who are trying to hang on to their faith in the midst of, what is for some, a tumultuous religious culture. Part of that recovery process is being able to identify places where some of our hurt and confusion may have come from.
There was a very interesting discussion around one of my Facebook posts this past week where I stated:
“If you go to a church that claims to be doing it "the right way" and those other bad people aren't... and you give them money... and volunteer a lot of your time... you might be in a cult.”
It’s impossible to convince anyone they’re in a cult, but I’m wondering if I can possibly plant a tiny seed that there are some ugly roots of cult-like behavior in some of our churches. I can say that from personal experience, for certain. (read my previous essay on “What it’s Like in A Cult” here)
As the comments on my Facebook post grew, it devolved down into a debate between a few people over (paraphrased) “how do you actually know what the Truth is if it’s not based on an infallible Bible?” (see post and read discussion here)
I wish it was that easy—to simply say we all simply need to believe in the Bible as the source of ultimate Truth, no ifs, ands or buts. And that there’s only one way to do this Christian life. (This is how I was raised, btw.) Philosophers have wrestled with this concept for millennia— How do we properly define truth?
But you and I both know that the various interpretations of Scripture number into the…what, thousands? Even within Christianity, some have said there are more than 20,000 different denominations. All started (I’m assuming) with the belief that they are finally doing it “the right way.”
Many churches will say they are holding to the Truth, while the world (and other churches) around them slips away into the shackles of a depraved, secular culture.
The ones that claim to be preaching the Truth are saying that they preach the Word of God…that they don’t alter it to make people feel good, or appease their lusty ears. (HA! Can ears be lusty? You know what I mean!) But they also say this to reaffirm to their own people that they are in the right place, receiving the right information—the capital T truth.
Unfortunately, our egos love to believe we are in the right, and others are not. This is a common attribute of many conservative churches. The opposite, asserting that you might not know everything, can feel very unsettling, even though it’s a world closer to humility, than certainty allows for.
In spite of our varying definitions of what constitutes truth, I want to say, yes, it’s important to know YOUR truth…and seek to live by it. My experience has shown that we can’t force our truth on anybody else. But if our lives show themselves to be markedly beautiful, peaceful, generous…I guarantee people will be curious about your truth.
Three Benefits of Knowing Your Truth
There’s comfort in certainty. It’s giving yourself boundaries to live within, and that’s very reassuring, especially in a society where very little seems worth clinging to.
Your truth can cast a vision for how you want to live. Even if you’re not living the life you want to be living, having a clear vision of what your aspired-to-life looks like is helpful to plan your steps toward it.
You can find other like-minded people. With these people you can build community, come together for encouragement and inspiration, and offer and receive assistance. For many people this is what church is.
I’m currently living in a place where I have less certainty than ever, in regards to everything God-related. There are far too many questions that don’t have answers. And I’m actually okay with that. My beliefs now are more about what I’m wanting to believe, rather than what I’ve been told I’m supposed to believe. That might sound frightening to some who have been told that we’re not supposed to think on our own, but rather follow the instructions we’re given. I’m trusting, just like the Bible has taught me, that God is with me, living inside of me, helping and guiding me, as I seek to be an instrument of God’s love to a dark world—believing that I can be a part of building God’s kingdom here right now, right here. What a joy and honor!
When someone on my Facebook post said, “The critical question is, how do you measure what is truth?”
I gave my most theologically truthful answer: “I wonder if the better question is ‘how do you measure what is love?’ I tend to lean on a Jesus kind of love to be the truth that I desire to pattern my life after.”
Jesus (in John 8) said, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” I believe the truth is found in him…in Jesus. As we learn to live like Jesus, we will be set free, not to live willy-nilly, but we will be set free to love. To love outrageously. To show God’s compassion to a world greatly in need of love.
Although imperfect, church, together with the wisdom found in the Bible have always provided a great foundation for understanding human nature, God’s love, and how we should interact in loving, honoring ways with other people. I have to believe you have something similar that has influenced you, that has helped you develop your set of truths, your values, your perspective on how to see the world. I’d love to have you share your Truth with us in the comments!
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