Practising Ministry 2: The Trouble With Truth

When you were young, you might have been told that it’s important to tell the truth. We are encouraged to believe that something is either true, or not true. That’s certainly what the definition would imply: truth is “that which is in accordance with fact or reality”. 

Truth is therefore something which is objective and can be acknowledge as correct. Two things which are completely opposite cannot simultaneously be true: only one can be the truthSeems simple. Unfortunately, not.

Your Truth, or Mine?
Western culture is steeped in the belief that truth is subjective. We cannot know something as objectively true because we are limited beings: we can only see things from our own perspective and this limits our ability to know truth beyond ourselves.

What is true for me, then, may not be true for someone else. And all claims of truth must be valued as equal, because we are not in a position to know which claim is better than the other.

While this sounds very fair, in practice it doesn’t work. We are seeing this already: there are plenty of examples of conflicts between competing viewpoints. Two contradictory “truths” cannot exist simultaneously: logically, one must gain dominance.

We cannot even rely on a majority view as a basis for defining truth. There are plenty of historical examples which show the dark places human beings can reach when we define truth by the views of the majority.

Can We Know The Truth?
In the second chapter of The Gospel As Center, the author addresses this very question. We know humans cannot know truth objectively, because we are
 limited by our perspective and experiences. In order to really know objective truth, we would need access to a much broader perspective, one which spans all of time and space. Thankfully: we do!

God. God is able to provide us with an objective view of truth, because God exists both within and outside of time (since He created it!). He knows the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:10). He also knows us individually and better than we know ourselves (Romans 8: 26-27).

These things, in addition to the fact that God is omniscient (all-knowing) mean He knows truth objectively, and is able to communicate that to us, so that we know the best way to live for ourselves, for others, and for our world.

Ministry of Truth
God communicates His objective truth to all of us through the Bible. This gives my ministry a solid foundation, because knowing God’s truth grounds what I believe and what I do.

From this comes the responsibility to share my experience of God’s truth with others, demonstrate God’s truth in my life, and let God’s truth shape my actions and thoughts. I need to listen to others who also believe God’s truth, so that together we can work out how it applies to us today. I  respect the fact that others can claim their own truth, but I still try and show them why God’s truth is better for them and our world.

For this reason, I hope my life and ministry is always founded on God’s truth, because, as Jesus Himself says:

“If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8: 31-32)

Christianity 101: What’s It All About?

This mini-series of posts will run alongside the two main series I’m currently writing. I wanted to do something short and snappy, and which gets to the heart of what Christianity is all about. I believe the Christian faith offers something unique, and I want to show how it can impact our lives and our world.

I’ve called this series “Christianity 101” because I want to explain what the Christian faith stands for, and show the difference it can make to people’s lives.

So; What’s It All About?
The answer to this question can be summed up as follows:

bridge-card

When God first made humans, we were meant to relate to Him as our creator. Unfortunately, humanity put its own selfish desires before our love of God, and we therefore rejected Him. This is called sin. Sin separates us from God. There is nothing we can do to bridge that gap.

This separation from God has caused all kinds of problems. The most serious is death, which was something we were never supposed to experience.

God did not want to leave things this way; so He came into our world as Jesus Christ. Through Jesus’ life, we learn about the way we are supposed to live. Through Jesus’ death, the gap between us and God is closed, as Jesus took the punishment for our sin. Because Jesus took our punishment, God is able to justly forgive us. Through Jesus’ resurrection, we are promised new life beyond death, where we will live as God intended. This is the heart of the Christian faith: through Jesus, we are reconciled to God.

The way this impacts our world is varied, and I hope to explore some of these throughout this series. If there are things you want to know more about, or topics you think I should tackle in this short series, please get in touch: I’m always happy to receive ideas!

Whatever topics are explored in this series, they have their foundation in the fact that Christians believe that through Jesus human being are brought back to God, and are enabled to live in the way He intended all along. The following picture suggests some Bible passages, which could help you explore this further:

Advent 2014 – Week 3

Week 3, beginning 14th December:
The Shepherds

Again, the explanation behind this video is well worth watching.

It’s a humbling thing, knowing what God did that first Christmas.

God came down: He lived as a human being. He didn’t come in power and glory. He came in the vulnerable position of a baby, born of and dependent upon His human mother. He began His journey of life in the humblest way possible: through birth.

But those to whom God first chose to first reveal His birth is also humbling. At the time when the Gospels were written, shepherds were considered on the lowest rung of society. They were a little above lepers. The highest a shepherd could climb is if he was placed in charge of the sheep used in Temple sacrifices.

So, when the message of Christ’s birth is announced, it would not be expected that shepherds would be the first to hear. And yet, it was! It was to shepherds that God first shared the news of His birth!

What does this tell us? It tells us that God is for the least, that God favours the poor, the oppressed, the marginalised. God is serious when He says the last are first in His eyes.

God is for the least of us. And that encourages me! It reminds me that, this Christmas, and always, God is for me. And He is for you too!

Sola Deo Gloria. Amen.