John Paul Cleveland
These days there is much use of “alternative facts,” and people decry that we live in a “post-truth” era. Truth comes off as a weapon to be used by those in power or those seeking power. Therefore, we find ourselves stuck believing that mere truth is a contestation between rivals or that it has no bearing on much of anything. And so it seems as if our notion of truth is either cynically depreciated or weaponized in service to the state.
So, how are the faithful to respond? How are we to live truth-telling lives capable of sustaining a peaceable community of those who follow after the way of Jesus? From the first to the last, our scriptures give us signposts that reveal the way of truth.
From the very beginning, we see in Genesis words of command and truth go out from God. These words are creative, life-giving, life-sustaining, and life-affirming. And then the word of God comes to the first humans, and they are told not to eat of the tree of good and evil. But the serpent confronts the humans with a snarky “Did God say…?” Here is the first time God’s words of truth are returned void. In the process, the serpent tells the humans a half-truth (Gen. 3:4-5). The truth gets twisted, and the humans are presented with “alternate facts.”
Is there a way out of this morass? I believe there is. But first, we confront another snarky attitude to the truth: that of Pontius Pilate. In John 18:38, Pilate’s snide question to Jesus, “What is truth?” is occasioned by Jesus’ declaration that He “was born and came into this world to testify to the truth” (v. 37). Jesus points us to a relationship with the Father in the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus makes possible a reconciled relationship with God and with one another such that God’s words about us and the created order return to God, this time not void but fulfilled. And ain’t that the truth?!
Friends and members of our Christ Church family have prepared these daily reflections as a means for you to consider how forgiveness informs your faith walk during this holy season. They are a richly diverse group from many different geographies around our nation and globe, formed by a wide variety of traditions.