Is truth real? Can truth be defined as absolute? Is it something that is only relevant to the person and the circumstance he/she is in?
In the Bible, John 4, Jesus was talking to a Samaritan woman who had divorced 5 times and was now shacking up with another man. He exposed her sin by telling her this fact about herself. She didn’t like the way the conversation was going so she began to argue over the fact that the Jews saw the Samaritans like people view West Virginian’s today (uneducated hillbillies, living in shacks with vehicles jacked up on concrete blocks, who worship with snakes.) She said to Him, “Our fathers worshipped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.” His response to her was: “A time is coming and has now come (referring to himself) when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for these are the kind of worshippers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshippers must worship in spirit and in truth.”
So what is truth? Truth is understanding that God is spirit and we are designed to worship Him in spirit and in truth. God has shown Himself to us through His word and through our own personal experiences. He has shown us some things which we love, and some things which we find painful. He has shown us that He is holy, loving, caring, and compassionate. He has also shown us that He hates sin, is just, and will one day judge all of humankind. But one thing that can never be forgotten is that God is patient with us and grants us grace. If He were not, we would all have burn marks on us from the lightening bolts He would strike us with everytime we mess up.
Jesus was asked this same question, “What is Truth?,” some 2000 years ago in John 18:36-38. But let’s take Pilate’s question and paraphrase it into something we can understand because we’ve probably thought or asked the same question ourselves: “Jesus, you’re talking about truth. But what makes your truth more absolute than mine? You’re just a man like I am a man. How can you, or any of us, claim to know what is truth?”
The answer Jesus gave actually came prior to Pilate’s question when He said, “Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”
Take for example this story by Frank Peretti about a neighborhood summer playground if you take the absolute truth from the picture.
Posted on the fence of the playground are some rules: “No hitting. No profanity. Only age ten and under on the monkey bars. Only age eight and older on the basketball court. Ten-minute limit on the tetherball court.” The rules work well because mingling through the crowd of children is Mrs. Kravitz. She has a keen eye, and if you misbehave, she will give you a pink slip. Two pink slips and you’re out of the playground for the summer.
But take Mrs. Kravitz out of the picture. How long do you think it will take before the rules begin to be violated? “Hey, he hit me!” “She spit on me!” “Hey, get those kids of the monkey bars! Little kids are getting hurt!” “Hey, he cut the tetherball off!”
Who will soon rule the playground? The biggest, the strongest, the most antagonistic. That’s what is happening in our society, because there is no regard for the rules. The Ten Commandments are no longer obeyed, and the Bible is no longer respected as a source of authority in our culture. You take away the absolute truth and chaos takes its place.
If we want to know truth, then there is only one source – the Word of God. Yea, some can say that the Bible is not valid for us today. Well, if that’s the case, then we no longer have Mrs. Kravitz to provide order on the playground. And without her, we see fear, discouragement, lack of esteem, hopelessness, etc. because there’s a “new sheriff in town” called self – the bully.
Think about it this way. Truth for the bully is to beat a person down to get what he wants. Truth for the adulterer is to lust after another woman because he’s allowed. Truth for the murderer is taking life for the mere pleasure of power. And truth for you and me is nothing more than getting what we desire. Add everyone’s truths – their wants and desires together, the sum is pure chaos.
So what is truth? It’s merely listening to Jesus and doing what He says.