Saturday, April 27, 2024

What is Truth?

[Originally published in the Monroe News on April 26, 2024]

The fight for truth has been around for a long time.  It had already become a battle at the time of Jesus’ earthly ministry in the 1st century AD.  The Greek and Roman philosophers were already known for raising questions about truth and looking at it with a sense of relativity.. When Jesus told Pontius Pilate He “came to bear witness to the truth (Jn 18:37)” it is no wonder Pilate responded “What is truth?”

The question of truth goes much deeper into history than just the ministry of Jesus.  In fact, it goes all the way back to the very beginning in the garden of Eden.  When the serpent approaches Eve and asks “did God really say?” the fight over truth had just begun.  The world has been challenging truth ever since. The world has been questioning God ever since.  God has remained steadfast and unchanging in revealing His truth ever since.  Jesus came to bear witness to this one truth.  He even said “Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice. (Jn 18:37)”  

I was moved to consider this topic of truth today as I just read a quote that has been circling the news feeds in the last week.  The quote came from a prominent CEO in the U.S.  This is what she said “Our reverence for the truth might be a distraction getting in the way of finding common ground & getting things done.”

Her clear thought is that truth gets in the way of more important things.  She even suggests truth can be the antithesis to finding common ground.  It is as if truth is the problem.  This leaves me flabbergasted.  I couldn’t possibly disagree more.

When people with power and influence make comments like this it is usually because they see truth as a threat to them getting what they want.  The real truth gets in the way of their intended “truth” and what they want to enact and push forward.  Or to put it another way, the truth gets in the way of one’s desire to peddle lies.  

We should all be familiar with this idea.  How often in our youth did we mess something up or break something and then prepare to weave a web of lies to try and cover it all up.  Inevitably the truth would find its way forward to unravel our deceits.  We’re all guilty of being upset when truth gets betweens us and what we want.  But that doesn’t mean truth is the problem.

As a society it does us no good to think we can find common ground and live peaceably if we are not also seeking to live truthfully at the same time. There is no common ground if we live in falsehood. Imagine a world in which we were all forced to live under the delusion that the earth is flat.  Everybody deep down inside knows the basic science denies this, but the powers that be normalize the delusion anyways.  We go about our days looking at sunrises or even something like the recent eclipse, but for the sake of not offending, we all agree to abide by the lie that the earth is flat.  This isn’t common ground or progress.  

Yet this is what the powers of this world seek with every passing day.  We’ve seen in recent news the threats to truth and things like free speech from nations like Brazil and we have even felt it in our own nation.  We lived through the pandemic and the fight over “misinformation” and truth and we’ve seen the evidence of how our own government fought truth along the way.

The problem with it all is that there is no love apart from truth.  If we do not live together with a genuine face and genuine words then what we live out with one another can hardly be considered real.  There is no love when we live out lies every day.  The apostle John makes this clear in his first letter writing “Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. (1 Jn 3:18)”   True love is seen in the truth and in genuine deeds and actions.

Jesus exemplified this best by living out the truth He preached.  He sacrificed for others.  He loved the unlovable.  He laid down His life for the guilty (us).  He forgave those who harmed Him.  He loved us.  

We, too, need to always walk in the truth with love.  I would suggest to you the example of Peter and John in the 1st century AD,  Acts 3-4 records it.  They go forth preaching and healing in the name of Jesus.  The authorities don’t like it and arrest them.  They charge them not to speak in the name of Jesus anymore.  What should people like Peter and John do?  Live a lie and hide the truth of what Jesus had done.   Or live boldly in the truth and obey God rather than man.  Peter and John chose the latter.  They continued to preach truthfully about Jesus, crucified and risen.  That was the right act of love.  Love and truth go hand in hand.  Living our lies and falsehood is the antithesis of love.  Instead, let us continue in love with truth, understanding that this true love is the greatest gift we can give to one another.   St. John says it best: “By this we know love, that He laid down His life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. (1 Jn 3:16)”

To God be the glory.

Mark Witte is the pastor at Grace Lutheran Church.
You can contact him at

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