Jesus stated that only the truth will set people free (John 8:32). But without knowing what truth is, how can one be sure of being freed by it? The only interesting thing about truth is that, like wisdom, it is discovered by the individual, diligently seeking after it. Knowledge, therefore, becomes necessary in pursuing after truth. The other component of truth is that it is associated with righteousness.
Many things are adopted as truth, yet being falsehood. Our educational system uses the principle of checking against the data of comparable magnitude. When a scientist discovers something that he/she finds to be workable and therefore true to him/her, he/she puts it in writing to convince those in his/her community.
His/her compatriots would then assess the paper and either validate or invalidate what is proffered. If they all agree, as to validate what has been put across, the scientist would then be granted recognition, which would make him/her an authority in that field.
I have a problem with that arrangement. The agreement, even by ten scientists, does not necessarily make the data truthful or not truthful. The majority are not always necessary to validate what would be truthful. They may bring additional information to strengthen the value of what is presented.
However, truth itself does not need authentication by anyone or anything. It remains to be what it is—truth. Other people may be in agreement, or not in agreement, but that does not change the condition of what may be presented on the table.
There could be someone, elsewhere, whose findings could be discarded by the majority peers, yet being more workable and truthful than the popularly accepted finding. Professionals are not necessary, as truth can only be validated by those benefiting from what is promised and fulfilled. People flocked towards Jesus who carried the intrinsic value of what those multitudes needed.
Many inventors can testify of how opposed their concepts were, by those in their communities. I suppose Bill Gates can be a living example of such instances. The education authorities had strong arguments against Bill Gates’ concepts of Microsoft windows. However, I doubt it that those authorities will ever learn anything from such examples, as this puts their pride at stake.
The perfect Biblical example is that of the ten representatives who went to spy at Canaan. The ten (the majority) were wrong. But the two, comprising the minority were right. If the truth could not be found in the majority, then obviously, truth cannot, even, be evaluated religiously.
When Paul instructed his followers that “every charge must be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses” (2 Corinthians 13:1), he was authenticating his opinion, based on scriptural reference (Deuteronomy 17:6). Even under normal circumstances, the application of this principle makes a lot of sense. But, consider the possibility that one can then abuse this principle by finding other two people, as witnesses, with an aim of substantiating falsehood, yet quoting the Bible?
Nevertheless, in Christian world this is what sustains denominations. The Bible is used as referral authority in following a particular line of doctrine. A particular scriptural reference gets substantiated by the majority who buy into it. But all that has got nothing to do with the truth.
In fact, such usage of Biblical examples caused Jesus to be crucified. The unison of the majority, shouting on top of their voices, represented sufficient evidence to justify Jesus’ crucifixion. But all those accusers were not representing the truth, regardless of their being the majority.
Governor Pilate posed a question that could have settled this matter and caused the release of Jesus. “Then Pilate said to him ‘So you are a king?’ Jesus answered, ‘You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.’ Paul said to him, ‘What is truth?’ After he had said this, he went back outside to the Jews and told them, ‘I find no guilt in him’” (John 18:37-38) (ESV).
Apparently, after asking the question, “what is truth?” Pilate did not wait for Jesus to explain. He left the accused standing, but convinced that Jesus was not guilty. It was not necessary for Pilate to wait for Jesus’ explanation. Pilate had the truth, already; in that Jesus was not guilty.
The truth that Pilate had, about Jesus not being guilty, had not come from Jesus or anyone, but from Pilate himself. Truth is therefore something that is possessed by any individual, regardless of religious affiliation. You do not need to be a religious person to know the truth. Religion does not have the truth but each person has the truth, even though not a worshiper.
To justify his conscience, Pilate attempted to compare Jesus with a notorious criminal, Barabbas, hoping that the Jews would prefer Jesus’ release, instead of Barabbas. But the majority had already passed a verdict against the truth (John 18:39-40). What could have gone through the mind of Barabbas? I suppose it took Barabbas time to believe what he was hearing.
Some people may blame Pilate for not having been forthright in standing for the innocence of Jesus. But, the principle of two or three witnesses could not be violated, even under those circumstances. Pilate could have landed himself into an indefensible political blunder, accordingly making himself unpopular with those that he desired to govern peacefully.
Washing hands to show innocence was also used by David (Psalms 26:6). At the point of Jesus’ condemnation, most people may have still held to the tradition that truth was held by religious people. No wonder why even his disciples got confused. The disciples ought to have known that truth does not necessarily come from religion, or from scholars.
Nevertheless, the helplessness of humanity is manifest in the law courts. People are condemned as guilty, on reason of technicality. And, at the same time, people can be found innocent on reason of technicality. While there is room for appeal, the courts are swayed by the ability to argue, regardless of whether such argument would be on basis of falsehood or truth.
For instance, Law Officers go by precedents, to justify merits or demerits of any case. The judge may have conscience and be convinced of the justification against what would be right or wrong. But when the matter gets argued on the basis of precedent by a crafty advocate, the judge may be overwhelmed and give judgment against his/her conscience.
This is what makes this world unbearable. Justice can actually easily favour the wicked people. In fact, most of those seen driving expensive cars and living in exclusive suburbs may not necessarily be in those circumstances by merit. And yet others may appear as beggars when in actual fact they would be valuable people, deserving to be living under respectable conditions.
How, then, does the truth set people free? Jesus was set free, before Pilate. He was crucified, but those people crucified a free man. A truthful person can never be hurt by anything, including miscarriage of justice. The story of Joseph can be borrowed here as a perfect example. Joseph was unjustly sold into slavery by his brothers, but that did not take away the fact that Joseph was a free man, because of his truthfulness (Genesis 37:25). Bitterness could not overwhelm the handsome Joseph, even under those circumstances.
As if that was not enough, Joseph fell victim to Potiphar’s wife, who incriminated him of a crime that he never committed (Genesis 39). But Joseph remained a free man, as long as he was guided by the truth in everything he did. This makes the truth more important than avoiding physical pain. Freedom is therefore attainable, as long as conscience is clean, regardless of circumstances. A person with a clean heart can never be hurt.
The most terrifying thing about deception, today, is that Christians associate truth with personal comfort. The two are not related, at all. In the majority of cases, truth and comfort are the very opposites. Also truth has got nothing to do with what other people say it is or it is not, whether comprising the majority or representing those considered as the elite.
The apostle Paul exposed some of this kind of deception in his letter to Timothy. Some people were associating the accumulation of wealth, as sign that God was blessing them. Paul, therefore, taught against this, as coming from false teachers (1Timothy 6:3-10).
But, my appeal is that readers should realize that truth does not come from religion, or religious leaders. It does not come from the law courts, either. It does not come from friends or the academic associates. Truth comes from you. Like in the example of Pilate, you know what truth is and what it is not, regardless of what everyone else says.
Truth is the only thing that sets People free, as it is associated with God. The way to know the truth is first by appreciating that Jesus is Lord. He declared that He was the way the truth and the life (John 14:6). A truthful person would, therefore, be guided by every word that came from His mouth. (Please share with others).
Andrew Masuku is the author of Dimensions of a New Civilization, laying down standards for uplifting Zimbabwe from current state of economic depression into a model for other nations worldwide. A decaying tree provides an opportunity for a blossoming sprout. Written from a Christian perspective, the book is a product of inspiration, bringing reliefs to those having witnessed strings of unworkable solutions––leading to the current economic and social decay. In a simple conversational tone, most Zimbabweans should find the book as a long awaited providential oasis of hope.
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