“to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth”, isn’t that how it goes? and yet now that we live in a “post- truth” time, what do those words even mean? Post-truth was 2016’s word of the year. Post-truth refers to a reality in which objective, observable facts are no longer important or given weight in our daily lives. What is viewed as most important are a person’s feelings, emotions, and beliefs about whatever it might be. In a post-truth world, there is no shared, objective standard of truth regarding anything.
We see this post-truth philosophy expressed in statements such as “live your truth” or “be true to your heart/self.” So I have my own personal truth, which may be very different from your truth. But both are called “truth” nonetheless. Both are considered equally valid. This can make for one confusing world, when there are no shared objective, observable truths. We don’t know who or what to believe and we dare not trust our own real life experiences (if we have any). What we see on a screen becomes our reality and by extension, our truth, if we are not out in the world actually interacting with other people and living our lives. If we are isolated at home, what comes into our home via TV, twitter, Facebook, internet etc. becomes our reality, becomes our truth.
We become slaves to our own feelings, which being human, vary greatly from moment to moment. My “truth” is an everchanging truth, depending on my circumstances and accompanying emotions at any given moment. Eventually, I don’t know which direction is up, which is down. I don’t know right from wrong and I can’t discern between good and evil.
“Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter. Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight. Woe to those . . . who acquit the guilty for a bribe, but deny justice to the innocent.” (Isaiah 5:20-23)
Woe is me! I confess – I long to escape, but I don’t know the way out. I read in John 8:32 these words,
“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
Well, that sounds good to me. I really want to be free. I want to be free of the doubt and the fear and the uncertainty of not knowing what is true and what isn’t true. I want to be free of confusion and chaos and instead experience clarity and calm. So what is the truth? In John 14:6 I read,
“Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.'”
Then I read these words which Jesus prayed aloud to God for His disciples, saying,
“Sanctify them by the truth; Your word is truth.” (John 17:17)
“All Your words are true; all Your righteous laws are eternal.” (Psalm 119:160)
“Your word, O Lord, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens.” (Psalm 119:89)
“The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever.” (Isaiah 40:8)
So I learn that God’s word is both true and eternal. The truth of God’s word is not going to change on me, although it will bring about change in me. God’s word is not going to change with the times, like human thought, popular opinion and reasoning do daily it seems at present. God’s word stands true throughout human history and throughout eternity. It is good to have an objective standard outside of myself that does not constantly shift and change its ways.
I read in 2 Timothy 2:15 a warning about my relationship to truth, my relationship to God’s word,
“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (this sounds old fashioned because it is the King James version, but rightly dividing the word of truth is such an important instruction to me and to anyone who would profess to proclaim truth)
Another translation says I am to be one, “who correctly handles the word of truth” while yet another tells me to “Know what His Word says and means.” Rightly dividing the word of truth is a big responsibility. Actually, it is a sacred responsibility. How could I or anyone ever live up to or live out this most challenging, difficult task? Especially in this post-truth time, where does a truthteller fit in? And on whom does a truthteller rely?
These words of Jesus in John 14:16-17 and John 16:13 help answer this question,
“And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor to be with you forever – the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for He lives with you and will be in you.”
“But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on His own; He will speak only what He hears, and He will tell you what is yet to come.”
I am not alone. God’s Holy Spirit, God’s gift to me, lives in me and will teach me truth and guide me into all truth, according to God’s word. (which is truth) Still, this is not a good time in history to be a seeker of the truth or a teller of the truth. By definition, truth has no place in a post-truth era. The very meaning of the expression is “after truth”, meaning after truth is no longer relevant, is no longer sought out and is no longer valued or even acknowledged. But then again, maybe truth has always been an unwelcome intruder in every age of man throughout our history.
Being a truthteller can prove to be downright dangerous for anyone brave enough to take on such a task. Paul knew this when he asked this telling question of the Galatians in Galatians 4:16,
“Have I now become your enemy by telling you the truth?”
Paul often ended up in prison for proclaiming the gospel, which is God’s truth. We see what happens to truthtellers, starting with Jesus. (actually old testament prophets also put themselves in danger for proclaiming God’s words) Jesus was crucified for proclaiming God’s truth to the people of His day. And eleven of His twelve disciples were also put to death for spreading God’s gospel message. Clearly, being a truthteller comes with a high cost. Sometimes the cost is your life itself.
I am instructed to be a truthteller often in God’s word. Ephesians 4:25 tells me,
“Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth each one of you with his neighbor, for we are members of one another.”
How the Living Bible says it, really gets my attention,
“Stop lying to each other; tell the truth, for we are parts of each other and when we lie to each other we are hurting ourselves.”
We co-inhabit this planet, we are fellow citizens of this country. What affects one of us will eventually affect us all. We need more truthtellers and less silent compliers in this post-truth world. Lack of truth is holding us all hostage to a false narrative and a false, media created reality. This is not a new, modern day problem. Look at these words of Zechariah, an Old Testament prophet of God,
” ‘These are the things you are to do: Speak the truth to each other, and render true and sound judgment in your courts; do not plot evil against your neighbor, and do not love to swear falsely. I hate all this,’ declares the Lord.” (Zechariah 8:16-17)
Sounds like they were dealing with the same problems a couple thousand years ago that we still deal with today – false testimonies, truth not prevailing in courts, truth suppressed and lies lifted up. We need the truth if we are to live in freedom. Truth is a prerequisite for freedom to flourish. And for there to be truth, we need truthtellers. In fact, truthtellers are essential. (well, not by COVID standards) Proverbs 14:25 says,
“A truthful witness saves lives, but a false witness is deceitful.”
So truthtellers are essential, after all. We cannot be free unless we know the truth. Jesus and His followers were put to death for speaking truth. Today, truthtellers face great personal risk as well. Loss of jobs and public censor are part of the cost of speaking out in our current cancel culture. It is a difficult choice facing each individual . Psalm 34:13-14 tells me to,
“keep your (my) tongue from evil and your (my) lips from speaking lies. Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.”
I want to be a truthteller, even when the cost is great. To that end, I pray these words from Psalm 86:11-12,
“Teach me Your way, O Lord, and I will walk in Your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear Your name. I will praise You, O Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify Your name forever.”
and these words from Psalm 141:3-4,
“Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips. Let not my heart be drawn to what is evil, to take part in wicked deeds with men who are evildoers; let me not eat of their delicacies.”
make me a truthteller, Heavenly Father –
sincerely, Grace Day