The truest truth

The truest thing is the one that will be true the longest.

A tongue twister for the brain: Some things are true today that will not be true tomorrow. Those those things are less true than other things that are true today but will also be true tomorrow. The things that are the truest are the things that will be true forever.

Relativism has been seen as a butcher’s knife to the systems of western religion. “What’s true for you might not be true for me.” “The only absolute is that there are no absolutes.”

But Christians could gain from the postmodern reassessment of truth. Indeed, we’ve worked hard on repackaging the ageless truth of who God is and what he wants from us without diminishing the gift of what’s inside the package. These efforts are laudable. Unfortunately some of our response to relativism has been to wield a butcher’s knife of our own, and seek to shred this opposing worldview into pieces.

Relativism is based more on experience than on logic. Logic in itself is not Christian, but Christianity can mostly be explained using logic. What if Christianity can also be explained using relativism? I know I may be freaking some people out. I’m still on the orthodox team. I’m just exploring ideas.

There are some things that are true today that will not be true tomorrow. It is raining. (That’s why I’m writing and not taking my morning walk.) Tomorrow it may not be raining, so it would no longer be true to say, “It is raining.” (Logic would insist that it is still true that it was raining on Saturday. But relativism focuses on experience, so if I am not presently experiencing rain, the important thing is that it is not raining.)

The trouble comes when we give equal weight to the truths that are true today compared with the truths that have always been true and will always be true.

Does that make sense? Here are several truths: It is raining today. God rewards the faithful. I have 27 things on my to-do list. My children are entrustments from our heavenly Father. We made plans to hang out with friends tonight.

Flattening out all those truths means I’m giving them the same level of attention and basing decisions on them equally. Treating them all as similarly significant to me at any moment is to forget that some truths are truer than others because they last longer.

There are at least two ways that remembering the relativity of truth can help us walk in the light of eternity :

#1. Assigning hierarchy to truth. It is true that there are 27 things on my to-do list. (I like detail, okay?) It is also true that my kids are an entrustment to me. The latter is more significant than my responsibility to my list.

Some of the items on my list reflect how valuable my children are to me. But which truth will be a weightier influence on my mentality and focus today? I say to myself, “It will be a good day if I get all 27 things done.” But what if I measured my day this way: “It will be a good day if I care well for my kids”?

#2. Turning jealousy on its head. Jealousy is based on the truth of the moment. “Why does she get to [fill in the blank] while I’m here doing [fill in the blank?]” The disparity between our lifestyles or opportunities is very real right now. But the question based on the longest-standing truth is, “What will eternity look like for each of us? Will my Father reward me in the long-run for serving him patiently here and now?”

Side note: we often are most jealous of the life we thought we’d be living. Discontentment is born when our present reality doesn’t meet our expectations. The thing is not that our expectations are ill-founded and unreasonable. They’re just ahead of the game! The truth is that there is a time when Christ will be all in all, he will make everything right, and he will reward the faithful.

The truest thing is the one that will be true the longest. That’s why, after losing his family at sea, the hymn writer could say, “It is well with my soul.” I’m sure his feelings were about as stormy as the waters that wrecked his loved one’s boat. But he anchored himself in the truest of truths.

Our days on earth are like grass;
    like wildflowers, we bloom and die.
The wind blows, and we are gone—
    as though we had never been here.
But the love of the Lord remains forever
    with those who fear him
. – Psalm 103:15-17

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