I thought twice before writing this piece. The danger is that it is a topic where it would be so easy to sound trite and fanciful. For those experienced in the fickle ways of the world, truth can become nothing more than fantasy for children. When our Lord proclaimed that He had come to bear witness to the truth, the jaded Pilate scoffed cynically, “What is truth?” (John 18:38). In more recent times, post modernism has seen truth become suspect; so much so that any idea of a real, objective truth is to be rejected, and the only truth is a relative truth. You can make up your own truth.
And yet, truth cannot be so easily dismissed. It is there, lurking underneath everything we experience. Solid and unyielding, sometimes surprising, occasionally astonishing, always constant; our existence is built upon the basic existence of truth.
Our Lord called Himself “The Truth” (John 14:6) and He called the Holy Spirit, the “Spirit of Truth” (John 16:13). He came into the world “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14) and He exulted that the Truth would set us free (John 8:32). He denounced the devil because he “does not stand in the truth and the truth is not in him” (John 8:44).
For the *true* follower of Christ, then, truth is not an optional extra. It is an essential part of the make up of the Christian and should be found within the very fibre and sinew of the Christian soul. To be separated from the truth is, for the Christian, to be separated from life itself.
Truth is beautiful.
When we study the creation that surrounds us, how can we not be moved by its beauty? This is a beauty grounded firmly in truth. There is the true reality of the twinkling stars of space, the reality of the sweet harmony of a little bird’s call on a fresh spring morning and the reality of the soothing scent of a dew flecked rose. We take these things in with our senses and we know that we are alive! We know intuitively the difference between what is real and what is imagined, between waking and dreaming.
The deeper we delve, the more beauty do we find. A complex mathematical problem suddenly comes together and falls precisely into place: “Beautiful!” erupts the student. And it is! A solemn piece of music or a well crafted poem moves us to tears and we sigh longingly, “Beautiful”. A deep spiritual insight breaks upon our consciousness, explaining much that was hidden to us before and we shake our heads and say … “Beautiful”. This universe of ours is filled with natural laws and events that are finely tuned and amazingly designed. Among them is our own brain, designed with the built-in capacity to recognise truth and to delight in its beauty.
Truth can be painful, yet its beauty is not thereby diminished at all.
As long as one lives in truth, one is surrounded by its piercing beauty. There is a joy, a life , a vivid clarity in the sense of reality that truth brings that transforms even painful truths into deep pleasures. Yes, there is a sort of pleasure in discovering an evil creeping about inside your soul. You are repelled by the ugliness of the sin and the horror of having that slimy spiritual substance staining your innermost being. And yet, to discover it, to know that it is no longer hidden, to finally understand why you behave so unaccountably badly at times – this brings its own great joy and relief. The world begins to make sense again, and of course, true repentance becomes possible.
For without truth, there can be no true repentance. How can the soul that deceives itself ever truly repent? If it lies about the existence of its sins, how can it repent them? If it falsely apportions blame to others but never to itself, what can it change in order to attain repentance? If it constantly finds false excuses to excuse its evil behaviour, how shall it ever be motivated to repent? The truth of one’s own sinful nature is one of the hardest truths for us to bear, and a truth we flee from by instinct. But those who insist on turning around and facing it, however painful and dangerous it may be, discover in that courageous act the nobility of truth. And they are transformed by it, just as a coward’s life is transformed when he finally stops running from his fears and turns around to face them. He becomes a different person.
This is the transforming power of the Truth of Christ.
There is so much more to say in praise of truth. Perhaps, another time.