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One of my mantras throughout the years has been, "I hate a liar," for they do more to harm people who are not even aware that they have been hurt.

My feelings lie in the biblical teaching of Jesus in John 8:47 where he said (NIV version), "If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God ... Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father's desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me! ... If I am telling the truth, why don't you believe me? He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God."

But Jesus was not through talking about the truth. He boldly proclaimed, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me (John 14:6)."

There are well over 200 references to "truth" in the New Testament alone, most of them attributed to Jesus. To that end, he says, "Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free (John 8:32)." Thus, Pilate, examining Jesus before his crucifixion, heard Jesus say, "You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me (John 18:37)." To this Pilate asked the main question, "What is truth (verse 38)?" Everyone understands the "way" and the "life," but what about truth?

So, here we are today, affirming the value of truth, but too often finding it to be elusive. The Executive Branch of our government claims there is a serious crisis at our southern border and quotes fact after fact supporting its claim. On the other hand, members of Congress (both Democrats and Republicans) say this certainly is not true, and also quote fact after fact to support their conclusions. People living along our southern border apparently are divided. Some say we have a crisis and some say they are having a good relationship with the people across the border. Some say building a wall prevents most of the illegal entries and crime in our country, while others say such a claim is spurious. Who is right?

Unfortunately, the news media has not always helped discover the truth. News sources too often only interview people who agree with them and ignore those who do not. Political aspirants inevitably only spin what happens to support their conclusions, not necessarily what is the truth. The freedom of speech we enjoy in our country is priceless, but it also allows for the distortion of the truth. Thus, too often, opinions are formed by what a person looks like, his or her personality and presentation, and our human emotional response to it all. Most people do not take the time to check the facts of a story, and also have a problem with accepting what the "fact sites" on the web have to offer.

Besides this, except for those people who are experts in sifting through the process of obtaining viable facts, most people find it more convenient to simply manipulate the facts into something they already believe. Unfortunately, it is not only with political pundits. Most of us know that it is possible to quote the Bible (mostly out of context) to prove a truth that has nothing to do with reality. In fact, I had one pastor even choose words from all over the Bible to put together some kind of conclusion. I just looked at him incredulously. The same is true in politics.

Certainly, if there is one thing our national government is good at, it is convening various committees to seek the truth about something or someone. So much time is given to this exercise that one has to wonder if there is enough time left to debate laws. And, unfortunately, such efforts to obtain the truth too often only provide a platform for political statements and little if anything about the truth. In addition, different committees seldom agree with each other, and their members remain divided along political lines.

So then, how do we discover the truth? I can only offer a few suggestions, but they take a lot of hard work. Separate yourself from your emotional ties to politics and look at what the experts are saying. If conclusions don't seem to make sense, explore the facts more deeply. Take time to read what Jesus said about the truth (start in the Gospel of John). And don't be afraid to pray a lot for the Spirit of Truth to open your mind to the things of God. You may not always find the truth, but you will certainly be on the right track.

• • •

Robert Box is the former chaplain for the Bella Vista Police Department and is currently the fire department chaplain. Opinions expressed are those of the author.

Religion on 03/06/2019

Print Headline: The truth will set you free

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