The Heart Behind Truth

Monument Basin from the White Rim Overlook, Canyonlands National Park, Utah
Monument Basin from the White Rim Overlook, Canyonlands National Park, Utah

Most people in the world today are looking for “truth” – or at least their own version of truth.  They want to know what is real and what is fake.  They want to see that truth lived out in their own lives.

Hiking up the trail to Summit Rock, Adirondack Park, New York
Hiking up the trail to Summit Rock, Adirondack Park, New York

As Christians, we go after truth with a passion.  We want the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.  The worst thing you can tell a Christian is that they’ve missed truth somewhere along the way.  In fact, they’ll probably tell you that you’re wrong and why you’re wrong, with plenty of verses to back up their opinion.

Mountain peaks across the valley from Cascade Pass, North Cascades National Park, Washington
Mountain peaks across the valley from Cascade Pass, North Cascades National Park, Washington

Jesus said in John 8:32, “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free.”  But interestingly, Jesus didn’t say, “Pursue truth, and when you know the truth it will set you free.”  Instead, He said, “If you hold to my teaching… you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31-32).  Truth comes through holding onto Christ and His teaching, not from seeking out truth for the sake of truth.

Along the Angel's Landing Trail, Zion National Park, Utah
Along the Angel’s Landing Trail, Zion National Park, Utah

Once we find truth, we want everyone else to experience the same truth that we have.  Often that’s because we know they’re also looking for truth and we have the answer.  But other times, we want them to experience truth because we’re so insecure that we have a need for us to be right and everyone else to be wrong.  Or, almost worse, we decide that because we have truth, God loves us, and God is mad at everyone who doesn’t agree with us.

Sunrise on Mt. Whitney from the Alabama Hills, California
Sunrise on Mt. Whitney from the Alabama Hills, California

When you pursue truth for the sake of truth and then slam everyone else over the head with the truth you’ve found, that’s a good example of truth in judgment.  Basically, you think about truth in the realm of, “If I don’t believe the truth, then I’ll be judged.”  In other words, you’re afraid of punishment if you as much as forget to cross a t or dot an i.

On the Cracker Lake Trail, Glacier National Park, Montana
On the Cracker Lake Trail, Glacier National Park, Montana

The Pharisees were experts in truth in judgment.  They made sure that everyone knew the truth and followed the truth.  Jesus condemned them because their motive was 1) being right and better than others, and 2) fear of judgement.

Parked near the Trail Canyon Road, Death Valley National Park, California
Parked near the Trail Canyon Road, Death Valley National Park, California

But there is also truth in love (Ephesians 4:15).  Truth in love recognizes what truth is, but instead of thinking, “If I don’t follow the truth, I’m in trouble,” it thinks, “This is truth, and it will let me love others more.”  It’s a totally different mindset from truth in judgment.

Wildflowers near the Teton Shelf Trail, Jedediah Smith Wilderness, Wyoming
Wildflowers near the Teton Shelf Trail, Jedediah Smith Wilderness, Wyoming

I see a lot of truth in judgment on social media and in churches today (though I’m not just talking about the conservative agenda).  They’re right; what they’re saying is (frequently) the truth.  But it’s been filtered through the lens of judgment.  So instead of the truth setting free – the truth being a vehicle for loving others – the truth becomes a tool by which they can cut down, judge, and destroy other people who Jesus died for.

Views from Wheeler Peak, Carson National Forest, New Mexico
Views from Wheeler Peak, Carson National Forest, New Mexico

Instead of pursuing truth, it might do us well to pursue Christ and His discipleship.  In that context, we will not only discover truth but also the heart of love that is behind the truth that sets us – and others – free.