Cutting Room Floor: On Truth

Making sense of Things Series: On Truth

In a time when what’s true is defined as what feels true to me right now, people justify what they say based on what they feel. They become like Pilate, or a little kid, believing that truth depends on their feelings. They speak lies, like I spoke at Applebees, “because it feels true to them,” and if true, real, facts prove them wrong, then people feel justified in saying without apology, “Well, it felt true.”

Justifying our behaviors on what we feel is a dangerous and selfish thing to do. If someone were to beat a child, and then come back later and say, “Well, I was angry.” We’d say, “Doesn’t matter. What you did was wrong.” When people speak, and tell lies to the children of God or anyone, and say “Whatever. I said what I said,” it is abusive, and evil.

We could prove this by calling up the worst things people have told us about ourselves. The truth is that most of us treat those words as stage instructions and scripts for our lives, and many adults I know are still little kids trying to shake off the uncaring lies they were told when they were young. Which is why I always try to remind us: We are dearly loved children of God who bring God great pleasure and who ought to be listened to, because it isn’t us who live any longer, but Jesus who lives in us.

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And look, all we have to do is remember Pilate’s question and remember to remember that Pilate didn’t care about truth; he cared about other things. His first act after retorting, “What is truth?” is a political one; he tries to give up Jesus, but doesn’t, because it’s easier for him. Truth, to a person like Pilate, doesn’t matter. What matters is what he says and what he does. What matters is his own expression of power.

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Jesus says, to those who don’t believe him, and want him dead “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I have come here from God.” He tells them, “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” Let’s live up to our identity as children of our father in heaven, not the father of lies, and reject those who follow his path.

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Another way of framing this is to talk about what’ subjective and what’s objective. That works, a little. Except, science itself–which we often think as a bastion of objectivity–has shown that on a quantum level, reality itself changes under observation. You can’t measure both the speed and place of a quantum particle. Reality itself changes under observation. We don’t live on a quantum level. We live on a human level, with human concerns, and issues, and worries and all the rest. And so figuring out a way to get to the heart of the truth of things matters, because it is how we make sense of the world. 

~Pastor Rich Hagopian

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