The last few weeks have been dominated by political stories. From Covid and Lockdown 2:0, to students coming home in a controlled evacuation; from the hope of a vaccine, to power struggles at the highest level of government, our screens are filled with facts, opinions, blame and rhetoric. Some of the most gripping stories (at least to us!) have been concerned with the aftermath of the American elections as after a long and hostile campaign President Trump appears to have been beaten – but is not giving up in spite of his opponent Joe Biden being congratulated as victor by governments all over the world. One Republican senator has declared that President Trump has a ‘relatively relaxed relationship with the truth’, so whether or not his allegations of Democratic vote rigging are proved to be true, the fight for the White House will continue to rage and the transition from one term of office to another will not be smooth.
What does it mean to have a relatively relaxed relationship with the truth? Human beings seem to prefer to think of truth as a rather abstract concept, which we can bend to suit ourselves. It can be difficult to know what is genuine these days, whether it’s the labels on the clothes we wear and the products we use, or telephone calls from people claiming to represent our bank. The news stories we read on countless websites can be so far from the truth that they are complete fiction, and we are urged to be discerning, so that we don’t get drawn in by unsolicited phone calls which threaten to cut off our internet, or are beguiled into replying to an email which appears to make us an offer which is too good to be true. The world we live in has countless opportunities to have a relaxed relationship with the truth, and the innocent amongst us find themselves broken as a result, while misunderstanding, hatred and violence can often be the outcomes of reporting which does not make every attempt to be free and impartial.
Of course, this is not a modern concept, and even Jesus found himself up against a cynical manipulator of truth. Standing before Pilate, who had asked Him if he was a king, Jesus answered, ‘You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.’ Pilate replied, ‘What is truth?’, a question which is still causing us headaches today. A quick search of our dictionaries, as well as online definitions of the word, show us that it can be a difficult concept to pin down, though perhaps the definition which said that truth is ‘the true facts about something, rather than the things that have been invented or guessed’, (Oxford Learner’s Dictionaries) seems like a reasonable statement. But what the world, along with Pilate, still struggles to grasp is that truth is actually a person – and Pilate was looking him in the eye.
Jesus said, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life’ (John 14:6) and that ‘if you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’ (John 8:31-32). Truth, then, is not a concept with which we can have a relaxed relationship, but the Saviour of the World, who wants us heart and soul, working with Him now and enjoying His love and presence forever. This is a relationship of all-encompassing love, and it comes with the promise that if we listen to Him the lies of the world are powerless against us, because our King and friend stands by our side.
With our love and prayers,
Matthew and Pauline