Recently I've found myself in great discussions surrounding the necessity and validity of a touchy issue, absolute truthh. Absolute truth has been a buzzword for those of us in the Christian worldview world for years, mainly because we believe that there is truth. Jesus said, "I am the way, the TRUTH, and the life." (John 14:6; and so it's obvious when the backbone of our faith claims Himself the truth, there must me a solidarity that lies somewhere in this discovery of what is real and what is not real.
For something to be absolutely true, it seems like we have to be able to apply it universally. So, when we talk about issues in our culture that are true and viable options, we've got to put our claims of truth in some sort of perspective. Not relative perspective, but rather; a framework of understanding what truths are important to emphasize while we have others that need to hold off for a more mature understanding. Paul referenced this when he told the church of Corinth they were living on milk, but it was time that they start eating meat. "I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not ready for it for you are still of the Fllesh." (1 Cor. 3:2) In other words, there seems to be a truth that is more beneficial based on circumstance. It certainly isn't relative truth, but it's truth that takes some maturity to understand.
That's where the touchy part comes in when we add to our truth claims socio friendliness, mainly experienced in the southern part of our country. Don't get me wrong Southern Hospitality is one of my favorite parts of America, because there's a cultural norm for people to be nice. But honest and truthful? Ok, maybe not all the time.
Let me give you and example.
My wife walks down the stairs and asks, "Does this dress make me look fat?" DILEMMA!
If I answer, well honey, that color looks wonderful on you. I'm evading the issue, and entering into a conversation laced with deceit. I by no means think my wife is fat, in fact I think she has a perfect body, but we all know there are some clothes that just don't fit right, and that's not a bad thing.
So, in my truth claim, if I were to say, "Well honey, actually that dress does make you look like a pig!" I'd be honest, but I'd be sleeping next to our dog Jake for the next few weeks. You get my point? Maybe there's room enough for truth here, but it probably isn't the "truth laced in love" the Bible speaks of either.
Therefore, in order that I move on so I can still have a comfortable pillow tonight; let us relate this idea to our conversation on different religions.
It is my hope, as a follower of Jesus, that all men might come into a lively relationship with the Son of God. I believe His teachings and methods are righteous for us all, and if we take them seriously and begin shaping our lives central to His life, we will actually find the life more abundantly he speaks of in the New Testament. Certainly not by material standards, but the life that Jesus represents is SO true.
Now, I'm on the plane the other day flying back from England, and my seat mate is a practicing Jew. He worships with a Rabbi from Chicago, lives a Kosher life, and knows the Pentateuch backwards and forwards.
My hope is, in my conversation that this man will wonder why I worship Jesus, and begin a journey of understanding truth as Jesus claimed it. I know he's not predisposed to the teachings of Jesus, but I feel quite an obligation to all men to share the Love God showed as He, "Sent His one and only Son that whosoever believe in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." So we start talking.
Do you think it fruitful for me to just start belittling this man's faith based on my framework of truth? Can you imagine how far the conversation might go if I started in….
1.) Did you know Jesus is the Messiah you've been looking for?
2.) Did you know heaven is a place reserved for Christians. (Jn 14:6)
3.) Did you know God is so disappointed in His chosen people for rejecting His Son?
(I think you get where I'm going here.)
It's not my job to go out and sell God so at the end of my life I can get the "employee of the month" award in heaven. That's God's job. It's my job to present the truth in love so that the Holy Spirit might work in the heart of mankind in order to bring him into a life so abundant, He finds the TRUTH at hand.
The Same applies to Muslims, Buddhists, Jews, Atheists, Agnostics and so forth. I have to believe the truth is so powerful that whoever hears the sacred message of God's love for the people of the world, if open; will receive the truth in their lives and begin following Jesus with their hearts.
We don't believe it.
We believe it is our job to go and make fools of all other religions in the name of false dedication, and illogical unreasonable faith. We feel like since we've got the truth, we also have the right to belittle people and run the gauntlet of our truth claims so they will feel the only option they have is to join our church, our organization, or our religious affiliation.
Is it right to go and claim Christianity to be the only way….SURE!…because it's true.
But truth in love goes a long way. Paul says, "If I speak in TOUNGES of men AND angels, but have not Love, I am a noisy going or a clainging cymbal. And If I have prophetic pwer and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing." (1 Cor. 13:1-3)
I believe the writer of 1 John to be true "Greater is He that is in me than He that is in the World." (1 Jn.4:4). It's not our responsibility to sell God. It's our responsibility to give people the option, with our words, and let the Spirit do the rest. Paul Writes in Ephesians, "For it is by grace you have been save through faith, —and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."
The Truth of salvation doesn't lie in a good defense of the gospel, For boasting would abound. Arrogance from the apologist, and ego from the decision maker would rise beyond the level of grace through faith. Our good works are only meant to show people a different Kingdom we live by. They are the low hanging fruit on the tree whereby people can test and approve our actions in light of our "worldview."
My friends, to look at another religion and just fume and rage won't speak love. It will speak judgment, and that is MOST DEFINATELY a part of God's character. There will come a day of judgement, but it won't help in sharing the love inside you with people who are still living away from the Truth.
I had a wonderful conversation with my new Jewish friend I met on the airplane. He was intrigued that I would dedicate my life to helping teenagers understand how to think. He was amazed at the world of adoption we've entered into, and thoroughly grateful that we spread that message to the next generation. But most of all, He was fascinated by the way I tried to explain Jesus' care for Him. It was a wonderful conversation, and today I pray for my Jewish friend. I pray that His journey would lead him to ultimate truth. The Kind that isn't touchy, but rather; I pray for the kind that brings a fullness of life inexplicable by the world's standards.
God bless you today!