“Whoever lives the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God” (John 3:21). Later in John’s gospel, we see Jesus brought before Pilate after he had been arrested. Pilate asks him if he is a king. Jesus responds: “You say I am a king. For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice” (Jn. 18:38). Pilate retorts cynically with the question: “What is truth?”
We live in an age of cynicism and doubt. In this age of absolute individualism and relativism, this question is not understood as an honest inquiry anymore, but rather as a declarative statement, implying that there is no such thing as a universal truth. Because every person claims to be the final arbiter of what truth is, and because such truth is no wider than the ego that exists between the two ears of the individual claiming it, our environment is one of constant conflict and division, governed by the finite and current “fashions” of political correctness and identity politics. Social media is a good example of this. It is, in many ways, nothing more than a shouting match between opposing opinions, each claiming to be the “truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.” As a result it is often full of the darkness of hate, intolerant self-absorption, and vitriol.
There is an irony, though, to all of this egoism and cynicism. To deny, or to be ignorant of the truth, and to act accordingly, has its unavoidable consequences. To deny the truth wilfully, or out of ignorance, is to put oneself in peril, physically, socially, and economically. But to be at odds with God who is the very source of all that is true, is to put one’s eternal soul in peril. Our calling as Christians is to live the truth of the gospel openly, willingly, and cheerfully. In doing this we must also recognize that this may open us to the potential of suffering the consequences of living in accord with the truth in a world governed by cynicism and egoism, just as Jesus did.
As Christians we must continually challenge ourselves with the truth of the gospels. We must read and pray over the scriptures with sincere hearts and with humility. To live in accord with the word of God is to live in the light of the truth. When we do this, as we see here in John’s gospel, all of our works in service to the truth, and for the good of others, will be clearly seen as the work of God. There is nothing this world needs more, especially in this cynical age, than the light of God’s truth being lived out by those who believe. And here is the practical truth of it all. None of us is perfect, but all of us are capable, with the grace of God, of becoming more and more Christ-like over the course of our lives. As John tells us here, if we practice living in accord with the truth, we come more and more into the fullness of the light of God’s truth. He, of course, will guide and support and defend those who humbly choose to follow him. The ultimate truth is that our souls were made to live in accord with God’s truth. It is natural for us to desire the truth and to live in it. It is unnatural to deny the truth and to attempt to live in opposition to it. The consequences for doing so are in the news headlines every day.
Lord, Increase in us a desire to seek you first above all else. Give us a love for your truth and the humility to bend our wills to it more and more each day. You are the truth that our souls naturally desire. Help us to walk in your light, so that others may see it and be drawn to you through our own acts of love, compassion, and mercy. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen!
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