05/03/2015 – John 18:37-38 – Following Jesus Today: “What Is Truth?”

Mark Wheeler

John 18:37-38; I Timothy 3:15

“Following Jesus Today: What Is Truth?”

May 3, 2015

Lidgerwood Presbyterian Church

You are our refuge and our strength, O Lord. We pour our lives into Your hands that we may discover all the benefits of Your grace and all the power of Your presence. Amen.

I spent some significant time this week chatting with a group of “millennials”, people born sometime between the mid-1980s and the late 1990s – basically people that are now in their 20s. We talked about what it means to be a Christian in this 21st century, and why so many in their generation do not go to church. Of course there is no single answer to that question but among those who grew up in church-going homes and attended church as children the common thread of answers seems to lie in the field of understanding what is “real”, what is “authentic”, what is “truth”.

(In part, this is why it is so important for us to use those yellow inserts in today’s bulletin as guides for every one of us to ask a simple question of this same generation – “where have you experienced God in your lives, outside of a church setting?”) Listen to their stories, and ask if they could send a photo of something that represents such an experience.

If something smacks of phoniness, or feels fake or put on, millennials go the other way. And in my humble opinion, they are right to do so! Who wants to invest their lives, their money, their time, in something that purports to be one thing but feels like something very different?

Not me! If I’m giving 10% of my family income to an organization, I want to trust that that organization uses my resources for the things it says it will (and which I, too, support!).

Now, hear this: that was not an introduction to a lecture on how good this church is with our finances. I think we are good – but that is not the topic of today’s message. Today’s topic is much deeper: “What is truth?

During these weeks between Easter and Pentecost we are learning how to Follow Jesus Today. We have examined how our words and actions impact the world around us, how we experience both the absence of God and the embrace of God in our daily walk with Him (and how to invite others to experience God’s perfect grace), and what it means to love God and to love our neighbors.Today we will listen to the Bible address the issue of Truth – and we’ll examine whether we live authentically with/in that Truth. Listen to the Word of God, from John 18:37-38, this takes place after Jesus’ arrest and as He stands trial before Pontius Pilate…. —-

37 ‘You are a king, then!’ said Pilate.

Jesus answered, ‘You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.’

38 ‘What is truth?’ retorted Pilate. With this he went out again to the Jews gathered there and said, ‘I find no basis for a charge against him.’

May God bless the reading, hearing, receiving of His Word which never fails. “What is truth?” What a great question! And, in fact, one which people continue to ask every day every where.Have you ever sat on a jury? That’s the whole jobdetermine what is truth. Baltimore, MD, is on lockdown because of the difference of opinion about what is truth. Last night, who won the fight? Did Mayweather knock Pacquaio out? Did he even knock him down? No. Three judges, none of whom felt the blow of a single punch, decided that Mayweather won. In baseball, whichever team has the most runs won the game. In boxing, sometimes, it’s whoever looked better…. What is truth?

And we people are prone to argue over what is truth. Sometimes it is truly a matter of opinion – is cherry cheese cake better or is blood pudding better?

Sometimes it is black and white – is 6 greater than 1? But even that can be gray – is 6 African elephants greater than 1 cherry cheese cake?

And sometimes two people can look at the exact same evidence, and because of personal experience and perspective, come to two very different conclusions – when Jesus says, in John 14:6, just before His arrest, “I-am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me”, did He really mean that belief in Him is the only link to a truly real relationship with God?

What is truth?” I looked it up in my Funk & Wagnall’s. After 26 lines of arbitration my Funk & Wagnall’s finally defines “Truth” as that which holds “stedfast [sic] fidelity to order and law.”

Steadfast fidelity to order and law. If it doesn’t make sense – it is not “truth”; if it doesn’t hold true in every circumstance – it is not “truth”.

This is, in part, why we live in a world where “Truth” is in the eye of the BEHOLDER. It’s all very subjective. “What may be true for you – fine, and happy for you – may not be true for me.” That is how modern culture has defined “truth. One cannot talk about “absolute Truth” without offending someone – we therefore have collectively decided there is no such thing.

But here’s the truly real thing: part of what it means to be a Follower of Jesus is to believe that God truly is real – and that this truly real God has chosen to reveal Himself to us through His written Word, the Bible.

And if the Bible is this truly real God’s Word to His creation, we must decide to either believe it is truly real or not. Paul told his young protégé Timothy to remember that “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness.” “God-breathed” or “God-inspired” is supposed to suggest “trustworthy, believable”. The Bible is True!

This truly trustworthy, believable Word of God tells us that Jesus came as truly God and truly human in order to right our relationship with God, by dying on the cross and being resurrected on the third dayThis is Truth! Always, every where, all the time.  And it doesn’t matter whether we believe it or not, it is still true! Always, every where, all the time.

Being the Church means we do believe that! Peter is well known, among other things, for being the first to declare to Jesus, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God!” And Jesus quickly responded by declaring that that Truth is the foundation stone upon which His Church would be built – and that even the gates of hell would not be able to stand against it!

That’s the Church I want to be a part of! LPC is not a perfect example of such a Church – we fail and falter and fight and finagle with the best of them – but LPC is truly on the right track!

Paul, again advising his youthful disciple Timothy in I Timothy 3:15, reminded him that “the church of the living God [is] the pillar and the foundation of the Truth.

In what ways is the Church of Jesus Christ as a whole called to preserve the Truth while engaging with non-believers? In what ways is the Church to be “the pillar and foundation of Truth”? We need to, at least, hold on to God’s Word as authoritative over faith and life. We could let culture determine what is true, ignoring Scripture; but to do that would be to turn our backs on the truly real God who so loved the world He sent His one and only Son so that anyone who believes in Him would not perish but have everlasting life!

We need to pray – to give our concerns to God and to trust Him for His powerful, loving presence to see us through.

We need to love the Lord our God, with everything we’ve got; and we need to love our neighbors by pointing them to His perfect love, at every chance we can.

And we need to do this togethernot as lone rangers or rock star soloists – but as branches of the same Church of Jesus Christ, regardless of the name on the sign out front.

What is one thing LPC can do to be preservers of this Truth? One thing? Preach with authenticity. One thing? Live in ways that demonstrate our faith. One thing? Ask our young adult and teen-aged neighbors about their God-experiences. One thing? Be present in our neighborhoods, loving and serving with God’s love and presence and purpose.

Imagine the impact on Spokane if the 65 of us and the other 30,000 Followers of Jesus in Spokane, actually told the Truth to just four other people this year.

This is the foundation of our Vision Statement: We are a people who:

Know the power and love of God, and

Grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ, compelling us to

Go in the footsteps of the Holy Spirit, loving and serving others who do not yet

Know the power and love of God….*

Let’s answer this question loud and clear. What is Truth? Jesus is the way and the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father except through Him!

Resources:

Detterman, Paul; Following Jesus Today: Challenges and Opportunities (Participant’s Book); Presbyterian Mission Agency; Louisville, KY; 2014; Pp. 19-24.

*Lidgerwood Presbyterian Church Vision Statement, 2006.

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