Tuesday, February 28, 2012

What Is Truth?

In John 18:38 Pilate asks Jesus the million dollar question: "What is truth?"  I asked this question on a discussion group that I sometimes participate in and was been surprised by the answers that came back.  The dictionary defines truth as "the true or actual state of a matter; conformity with fact or reality."  This leads me to believe that 'truth' is a description of how things actually are, as opposed to how they might appear.  But surprisingly enough, at least to me, there are those who hold to the opposite position.

For example, prior to the 17th century is was believed that the earth was the center of the universe and that everything else, including our sun and the other planets, orbited around the earth.  But thanks to the work of Nicolaus Copernicus, Johannes Kepler and Galileo Galilei it was demonstrated that the earth, along with the other planets, all orbited the sun.  According to my understanding of the dictionary definition of truth, the reality, and thus truth, even prior to the 17th century was that the earth orbited the sun, even though it was perceived to be otherwise.  But according to others what was true actually changed as our understanding changed.  To them, perception is truth.

This definition of truth, based on perception, is actually very useful for some people.  If one with that definition of truth looks around and fails to see God, then as far they are concerned the truth is that God does not exist.  It does not really matter what the reality actually is.  What they care about is what they are able to perceive. So if science fails to find God, then, in their mind, there is no God.

I find it interesting, and I suspect not coincidental that Jesus had actually answered Pilate's question the day prior to his asking the question.  In John 14:6 Jesus tells his disciples that he is the way, the truth and the life.  Pilate says "What is truth?" and Jesus answers "I am".

This seems like a strange statement at first, and I must admit to struggling with just what Jesus meant by it.  What does it mean for someone to claim to be the truth?  I believe that what Jesus is saying, at least in part, is that our reality is based on him.  He is the creator of the universe and sustains it by his power.  He is at the heart of everything.  Not every question you might ask has Jesus as the answer, but many of the 'big ones' do.

What is truth?  Jesus!
Why is there something rather than nothing?  Jesus!
What hope does this world have?  Jesus!
How can I have purpose for life?  Jesus!
How can I come to know God?  Jesus

That Pilate, and many others both today and throughout history, do not recognize him for who he is does not diminish that truth.  Jesus is the truth, and all who live apart from him are living a lie, and calling their perception of reality 'the truth'.  It is a choice that each one must make: to accept or reject the truth!  Will you live in the truth?  Or live a lie?

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