Well, what a tumultuous start to 2017 we have seen in the political world. President Donald Trump is just a few weeks into his term of office as I write this, and whatever your political views, there is much controversy surrounding his style of leadership. I follow him on Twitter (@realDonalTrump and now @POTUS President Of The United States) and it is fascinating to get notification of his latest pronouncement even before it hits the news headlines on the BBC or other sources. The modern world of social media has transformed the way we learn about the world around us, and has created the concepts of “fake news” and “alternative facts”. When sources for news are not checked or verified, anybody with a blog or a Twitter account or a Facebook page can publish something that is not real, and before you know it, it has a life of its own and is being understood as the truth.
The Oxford Dictionary word of 2016 was announced as “post-truth” – an adjective defined as ‘relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief’. They comment that the concept of post-truth has been in existence for the past decade, but there has seen a spike in frequency this past year in the context of the EU referendum in the United Kingdom and the presidential election in the United States.
What is truth? Bible accounts tell us that an accused Jesus stood before Pilate on trumped up (no pun intended) charges of insurrection. Pilate interrogated him in response to words Jesus just had uttered. “For this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth” (John 18:37b).
When Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life,” he primarily means two things. First, in a negative sense, he means that his followers are not the truth. So, whenever Christians make truth claims, we need to speak them with a sense of humility. We are not the truth. We don’t hold the truth. Second, and in a positive sense, Jesus means that the truth is like him – nonviolent love. If we truly follow Jesus, we don’t find ourselves primarily attempting to defeat our opponents, but attempting to reconcile with them.
Paul wrote that we can possess all the truth about the mysteries and knowledge of the world, but if we don’t have love we are like a clanging cymbal (1 Corinthians 13). Unlike our post-truth world that emphasizes emotions, biblical love is not an emotion. It’s an action. Love is a verb. It seeks the best for ourselves and for others, including those we call our enemies.
Be blessed during this season of Lent, and take time to ponder on the truth of God’s love for the whole world.