Saturday, November 26, 2005

thoughts on truth

Jesus answered, "... for this reason I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me."
"What is truth?" Pilate asked.
John 13:38-39

I've been mulling over this word, TRUTH, for the past few weeks. I spent most of one day reading about it, looking up the Greek and Hebrew words that are interpreted as "truth" in modern translations of the Bible. What I learned is that the word doesn't mean what I thought it did.

Truth means certain, firm, secure, steady, not concealed, stable, trustworthy, fixed, established, right. It does not mean "good" or "moral".

I am afraid to use this word, truth. Almost everyone I know is. Afraid of being wrong, afraid of hurting people, afraid of setting a standard no one can meet, afraid of failure. I have asked the same question as Pilate with the same level of disdain and cynicism that I hear when I read this story. What is truth? Does truth even exist?

I have always thought of truth as reality, and I have always thought of reality as being, in large part, self-prescribed. What makes something true? Is believing it to be true what establishes its truthfulness? Then couldn't everything be true, or nothing be true? If so, is anything in life certain? It's a circular conversation,and usually leaves me confused and frustrated.

Which is why understanding how the Scripture uses this word has helped clarify my thoughts. Truth is reality, but not all of reality is true. Reality is largely about perception; if you don't believe me, I'll tell you a story face to face sometime that will convince you. But truth is a fixed entity, not dependent on my understanding or even acceptance of it. It isn't necessary for me to believe something to make it true.

I have a deep need for steadiness, security, certainty, things that are fixed and firm, in my life. I need to be tethered to something solid; I need a grid through which I can think and function. I need the truth.

Most people avoid this word, truth, because they are afraid of either being judged or being judgmental. But we're thirsty for it, too, something solid and firm and established. We're thirsty as individuals and as a culture. We are a generation that has nothing fixed in our lives anymore. We're both looking for it and afraid to find it, this word, this truth.

What are we afraid of?


Madame Rubies said...

Oh, Stephanie, what a wonderful post. It make sme think of a situation here, that i can't really write about, but I will share with you sometime.

Tookshire said...

"truth is a fixed entity"
I like how you phrased that. And yes, we are all thirsty for it.