A “post-truth” world.
Anyone seeking to be a Christ-follower should be concerned at the thought of this – yet, according to current trends, this is where we are at. Oxford Dictionary named “post-truth” the word of the year in 2016 (followed up by “youthquake” in 2017). This generation, as a whole, sees truth as a more fluid thing – led by emotion, circumstance, and place – a thing that can be anything to anyone and of no real definition or substance.
Today, most people consider truth to be what they believe to be true.
post-truth: “‘relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief'” (Oxford Dictionary).
I don’t know what your experience has been but I, personally, have become increasingly aware of the lack of desire to be “right”. While it used to be that the majority had a desire to be “right” – many today don’t even care if they are (or worse, if anyone else is).
There’s no question as to why this has happened.
In an effort to combat the “rightness over righteousness,” legalistic mentality of former generations, the temptation for all of us has been to take things to the other extreme and reject rightness altogether. While the direction of this swing is right, good, and necessary – the extent to which it happens is often excessive. Instead of giving our heart to God in addition to a right way of practice, fed up with legalism and unnecessary restrictions, we narrow down truth to a few “key” elements and deem the rest “optional”.
We of this generation needs to be aware of this inclination within ourselves and choose to seek balance. We will never effectively battle by rebelling against extremism with extremism. God is a God of balance – if we wish to seek Him, we will not find Him at either extreme.
“For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God” (Romans 10:3).
What kind of things will a person who is being swayed by a post-truth world say?
- Intent is the only real thing that matters.
- That may be the Spirit’s truth for you, but it isn’t the Spirit’s truth for me.
- Mercy and grace trump truth.
- How you feel about an idea reveals what God’s truth is to you.
- We can’t choose conflict over Christ.
- We are all on a journey, and we can’t interrupt anyone else along their journey to spiritual discovery.
- There are just a handful of core truths – everything else is relative and open to interpretation.
Have you heard these things yourself, or maybe even said them? I have heard them all. They are fast becoming the most popular ways to deal with conflicting ideas of truth – but are beliefs that we, as followers of Christ, cannot hold to and be pleasing to God.
While there are differences of opinion, truth still exists. Absolute. Objective. Unpopular.
Think about it – if truth were relative and Christianity held no conflict with the world around us, then:
- John the Baptist needn’t have died trying to tell Herod to leave the wife he had unlawfully married (Matthew 14:3ff).
- Jude wouldn’t have told us to earnestly fight for it (Jude 1:3).
- Jesus wouldn’t have been put to death.
Truth and those who hold to it in its completeness have always been and will always be in the minority (Matthew 7:14). They will always be at conflict with someone in some way. Jesus promised that this would be the case. In fact, if we are not being persecuted in any way, it is a sign that we are not holding to the truth as we ought.
“Yes, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12).
All. If our ultimate example, Jesus Christ, was persecuted, hated, and mocked for His teaching of the truth – what makes us think that we will be any better off? In a post-truth world, we must be ready for persecution. We must be ready to be called hateful, unloving, legalistic, unmerciful, uncaring, and unjust – while never being any of those things – in the name of Christ.
“The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord. It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household?” (Matthew 10:24-25).
We need to remember, as we navigate this post-truth world, that we serve a God who cares about truth. We serve a God who has always cared about truth. To Him, truth is as important as spirit (John 4:24), love (Ephesians 4:15), what you do (1 John 3:18, 19), and where your heart lies (Matthew 15:8). God has not changed His opinion on that – He is the same “yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8) and does not change (Malachi 3:6). He has always reigned with goodness tempered with severity, and severity tempered with goodness (Romans 11:22). While God gives us grace upon grace upon grace – we cannot forget that He also stands as Lawgiver and Judge.
Those claiming to follow Christ must believe that there is an absolute, objective truth because Christ did. Christ died for that truth. To reject it or to fail to seek it is an insult to His name.
Our light must still shine.
Have you bought into this “post-truth” way of thinking? Here are some questions to ask yourself, as a follower of God and truth-seeker:
- Do I believe that His Word is absolute truth? (John 17:17)
- Do I accept His written will above any feelings or revelations? (Galatians 1:6-10)
- Am I open to a brother or sister coming to correct me? (James 3:17)
- Am I willing teach others that there is only one objective standard of truth? (Romans 15:14)
Despite what is trending, the truth is still relevant in this post-truth world. Truth still needs to be held up by the church (1 Timothy 3:15). To do this rightly, we need to discover what that truth is for ourselves: studying what His Word has revealed to us (John 17:17) and praying for His wisdom (James 1:5).
No matter what the world around us is choosing to do, God will reveal the truth to us if we open our hearts and Bibles, set aside our own will, and lay our lives at His feet.
Ask, and it will be given to you.
Seek, and you will find.
Knock, and it will be opened to you.
In a post-truth world – dare to shine out His truth, still.