When Jesus proclaimed, “you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32), that day did not turn out to be a good one for Him, or for truth, because the people ended up harassing Him, claiming He was demon possessed. Sometimes the truth doesn’t make you free—it makes you mad! Of course, the difference is how we handle the truth. The Scriptures tell us that truth is very valuable and “we should buy truth and sell it not” (See Proverbs 23:23). This implies a very important lesson about truth: it will indeed cost us something. In fact, truth can be very liberating, but often, it will cost us more then we are willing to pay. For the religious leaders of Jesus’ time, the cost would have been letting go of traditions they held very dear. People love their traditions! There is something about our traditions that give us comfort and security. While the future can be emotionally unsettling because of the unknown, our past is at least without unforeseen surprises. Although we may not fully understand our past, it does give us a sense of security simply because of familiarity. Notice that most human conjecture over the future has a very negative spin. Most new things, like the advent of technology, typically set in motion our thoughts of its dangers more than its benefits.
Letting Go of Control
Growing up, I remember reading the book (and seeing the movie) 1984. You can probably guess that I grew up before 1984, and truthfully, it was my thirtieth year of life. The book, written in 1949, tells the story of a future world where a world dictatorship’s use of technology would make it possible for “big brother” to watch our every move and as a result, control our life. Because we have no control of the future, this explains why the thought of it is often fearful. Having lived through the times when technology has far exceeded what the book could ever have portrayed, I have also witnessed how technology has had the opposite effect. When the Soviet Union fell, the facsimile made communication quick and the spreading of information more widespread. This made the dictatorship powerless in controlling the people. Today, computers and social media have made an even greater impact upon society, which has led to the downfall of many totalitarian governments in the Middle East and has resulted in what is known as the “Arab Spring.”
Who Wants to be a Winner?
Usually when we refer to the opposite of truth, we label it a lie. However, this is not necessarily true. The opposite of truth can be a half-truth, and the greatest hindrance to truth is our resistance to the fullness of truth. What Jesus experienced was not opposition from people telling lies as much as it was people wanting to be right. We can be right with a half-truth, however, it can easily make us comfortable with our position of opposition to truth and resistant to the truth that will inevitably “set us free.” As a minister, I have been in a position of counseling through many arguments and disagreements between people, including married couples, and I have found truth usually comes from hearing both sides of a disagreement. I recently taught my congregation how they can be a winner in every debate and argument in which they are involved (notice I did not say win every debate and argument). We can always be winners if we enter a dialogue with the motivation that we are looking for truth, not looking to be right. If we look for the truth, we can be winners every time! How? In the words of Jesus, “you will know the truth and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32). To know the truth and in turn experience freedom, we must be willing to pay the price. At times, we may have to admit that we are in bondage to our traditions or mindsets that keep us imprisoned to our past, and it may cost us our sense of security we have from our own understanding and logical analysis of our life. The way of truth is actually a way of faith. This is why Jesus declared, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life” (John 14:6). Jesus spoke those encouraging words to His disciples as He was preparing to leave them. Their future would now be uncertain from a logical perspective because they couldn’t manage their future based upon their past experiences. However, if they would believe, they could be free, understanding that the best of life was right in front of them. Will you seek the truth in earnest and walk with the peace of His plan yet unfolding in your situation and in our world?