When the man called Jesus said, “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free (John 8: 32),” what did he mean? How does one define truth? Before embarking on such a discussion, wisdom bids that a few definitions of truth are put forth:
- Wikipedia says, “Truth is … used to mean being in accord with fact or reality.”
- “Truth is something about all the facts, rather than things that are imagined or inverted,” says Collins Dictionary.
- Biblically, one person says, “Truth is the self-expression of God.”
Many people also believe truth is subjective—meaning it is based on or influenced by personal feelings, tastes or opinions. With such a wide range of definitions for truth, one can understand why it is so elusive today! Here are some examples:
Commercials paint vivid pictures of “paradise and wellness” if one takes a pill, and then give a list of detrimental “side effects” from the pill. Political leaders lie at the “drop of a hat,” but voters reward them by putting them in office. Ministers evade the truth because they are “in bed” with politicians. Parents lie to their children, but expect that those same children should tell them the truth. “Fact checks” on our President reveal he lies continuously almost on a daily basis, but “his base” accepts what he says as truth …even when they know he’s lying. It’s not enough to reminisce about the “good ol’ days” when one could trust his neighbor, instead, we must contemplate where the truth lies and how one expresses it.
Who gains by lying? No one …certainly not the person lying … he knows deep within himself what he is saying is not substantive—having no basis in reality, nor meaningful content. His greatest satisfaction, is knowing you believed his lie. That makes him feel smart! “They,” he thinks, “are the idiots … I can lie…lie…and lie some more, and those fools believe me. I am so-o-o intelligent!”
Examining the belief that truth is based on one’s feelings, tastes and opinions, the writer believes accepting that premise gives it no foundation or reality. With millions of people in the world, the door is open to there being a million personal truths—ultimately being “no truth.” I would argue that for something to be true, it must have an unmoving, unrelenting foundation—unchangeable. What do you think of a person who tells you a story today, and tomorrow, next week and next month the story changes. Do you consider his story creditable? Would you not ask which story is true? Which one should I accept?
Before moving on …there is another school of thought that says, “Truth is both qualitative and quantitative,” meaning if it can be measured, it is quantitative, but if it cannot be measured, it is qualitative. Quantitative truth looks like this: “My weight is 120 pounds.” Qualitative truth says: “Her inner beauty is over-flowing.” I would surmise both can be measured, but the yardstick is different. That will be discussed… a little later.
Hmm-mm, if God is Truth, how does that relate to man living today? The first thing it does, is remove truth from that which is observed by the physical senses. Why? Because if you believe the Bible, God is Spirit … thus he does not see, feel, hear, taste or act from observations based on physicality. Spirit is not conscious of matter or material things. Also, God, being eternal, Truth has to be eternal—meaning it is unchangeable, everlasting. It’s not something today and another thing tomorrow. Jesus was plugged into this reality when he said “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” Freedom is an attribute the liar cannot identify with, because he is a slave to his lies. They consume, enlarge and make him who he is. True freedom is a state of thought—an understanding that in spite of what one says or does, truth stands, unabashed, unvarnished… and will ultimately reveal itself as truth. This freedom leaves one unruffled by the lies repeated over and over by the liar.
“Hey guys …that’s the example Jesus set for us, and when we deviate from that example by either lying or accepting a lie…everybody loses!”
Why is truth so elusive today? Because mankind would rather hide behind a lie than strive for truth. He is weak in moral fiber, devoid of moral values and has a mental foundation “built on sand.” It erodes with every wind that blows by.
True consciousness is not swayed by money, politics and human power. It has a firm grasp of truth as reliable, undeniable and impartial. Does this make it qualitative or quantitative? I would surmise it is both—both because it is not based on the five physical senses, but on a moral sense of good, righteousness, perfection and divine law—divine Principle—a synonym for God. That Law is honest, just and equal—having no basis for personal opinions, beliefs and laws. It is measured by the good it generates, the love it expresses and the character it reveals. Whew!
Is this easy for mankind to hold on to? No! Can he begin the journey today? Yes! But… it takes courage, devotion, determination and constant self-analysis. Many days, the truthful person may stand alone in the choices he makes … the values he stands for, and the people he regards as heroes.
Why is truth so elusive in the world today? Mankind’s lack of spirituality: things such as courage… faith…and morality.