Wednesday, October 9, 2013

What is Truth?

“Pilate said to him, ‘So you are a king?’  Jesus answered, ‘You say that I am a king.  For this reason I was born, and for this reason I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth.  Everyone who is committed to the truth listens to me.’  Pilate [sarcastically] said to him, ‘What is truth?’” –John 18:37, 38

“What is truth?” seems like a simple enough question, but the answer is not simple at all.  Philosophers, scientist, and great thinkers throughout the ages have debated this very question.  And institutions of higher learning throughout all generations and civilizations have dedicated themselves to discovering and discerning the truth in all its varied forms.  We as humans with finite, limited minds can only grasp so much; we’re not omniscient or all-knowing and all-seeing.

Throughout our history, mankind, by our very nature, has always been drawn to the truth.  Although we’ve always been deluded by lies, falsehoods, misunderstandings, misconceptions, prejudices, superstitions, and the like, we’ve all tended to look for the truth because truth can be very liberating.  Jesus said, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32).

Webster’s defines truth as the true or actual state of a matter; conformity with fact, reality, actuality, or actual existence; a verified or indisputable fact, proposition, principle, observation, or the like (e.g. mathematical or scientific truths).

Throughout the Old and New Testaments of the Bible, discovering and revealing the truth is a common theme.  The Old Testament asserts that God is the source of all truth, and the New Testament asserts that Jesus Christ is the manifestation of the whole truth about God.  Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but by me.” (John 14:6).

Truth can be a demanding task master.  Living a life of truth can be a hard, rocky, and difficult path to follow.  Falsehood is easy.  Committing yourself to the truth can cost you a lot; it can mean the difference between worldly success or failure, fame or obscurity, fortune or poverty, pleasure or pain, reward or sacrifice, life or death, etcetera, etcetera. 

So why live by the truth if living by lies and falsehood is so much easier and rewarding?  That is a question each one of us must answer for ourselves; but it’s probably why so few of us actively pursue and live by the truth.  Personally, I believe that being committed to the truth is its own reward, and being a follower of Jesus Christ demands that one live according to the truth and not lies.  Being truthful in all that we say and do, being discrete and not divulging secrets, and being careful not to be duplicitous or hypocritical is a virtue worth striving for.  St. Thomas Aquinas once said, “Men could not live with one another if there were not mutual confidence that they were being truthful to one another.”

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