At the time that I wrote this post, we are in the middle of a short series on the values of Riverwood. We talked about our first value, Grace, last week, which means this week we come to Value #2…
In John 18, Jesus is having a conversation with Pontius Pilate. Jesus has already been arrested by the Jewish leaders, endured a false trial before the Jewish high court, and now stands before the Roman governor, who is being pressured by the Jewish leaders to kill him.
Pilate is trying to figure out who Jesus is and why the Jewish leaders handed him over to the Roman government to be executed. As they converse, Jesus says in verse 37 the reason he came to earth was to "bear witness to the truth."
But Pilate mocks this concept. He responds with a scoffing tone, "What is truth?"
I have heard numerous people in our day and age say aloud, "What's true for you may not be true for me," or “This is my truth.” I understand their thought process. But the more I think about it, the more I realize these are just different ways of saying, "What is truth?"
When it comes to food or art - sure, you can have different "truths." One person thinks chocolate is amazing. Another thinks it's awful (and we all know THAT person is completely crazy! 😁) You could then say that they both speak the truth, even though they have differing opinions.
But with most things in life, you can't do this. You can't look at a blue shirt and say it's red, claiming this as your "truth." To do so makes you a modern-day Pilate, basically denying the existence of truth.
As uncomfortable as it might make some people feel, for most things in life, truth is truth. Or to put it another way, truth just is, no matter what you believe or say.
But let me caution you - truth is like a knife. When you "wield" it, some will be scared and run away. Others might get angry. More than once in Riverwood's almost-eight-year life, I've been told our church is too "fundamentalist," narrow-minded, or conservative - simply because we choose to believe that there actually is truth. (By the way, I've also been told we’re too liberal!) Truth can be sharp and (if not wielded correctly) can hurt.
But it is important for these people (and you) to realize what we, as the Riverwood family, are truly talking about when we say we value truth. We live in a day when everyone is arguing about the “truth” of masks or vaccines or politics or race or public education or theology or just about any hot topic you can think of. But while those are significant issues, those topics aren’t the core of what we are thinking about when we talk about the value of truth.
So what do we mean when we say we “lean on truth”? We mean what Jesus means...
In John 8:32, Jesus said, "…you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." The “truth” He is talking about in this verse is Himself & the gospel. When you understand Jesus died on a cross to pay for your sin, He sets you free from the penalty of that sin. That is the truth we are so passionate about!
But while that freedom from sin is wonderful, getting there can sometimes be painful. You see, truth hurts sometimes. It is usually uncomfortable to face our sin. But when we let Jesus wield the knife of truth like a master surgeon, He carves out our cancerous spiritual tumor of sin, removing it, so we might be spiritually alive and free.
Notice, though, this means ultimately it is Jesus wielding the knife - not us. This is why at Riverwood, we seek to “lead with grace,” welcoming ALL people regardless of their past. By "leading with grace," we hope God's grace will be like an effective anesthetic that prepares people to receive the knife of the gospel. All we can do is "lean on the truth" of the gospel, aiming to lead people (including ourselves!) to the One who loves humans exactly as they are, but loves them too much to leave them that way.
So may YOU lean on the truth of God’s love seen through Jesus. May you not be afraid or ashamed of it. May you continue to study the truth of the Gospel through reading Scripture. May you soak in it through Growth Group discussions. May you continue to let it free you from your current struggle with sin. And may you experience more and more the freedom Jesus generously gives through His gospel of grace.
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