Does it ever seem to you as though the world has gone crazy? And that people around you don’t see life the way you do? I’m not talking about sharing different political ideologies or opinions or preferences towards music, fashion, or sports, but fundamental discrepancies about how life actually operates and works? About such bedrock issues as: Who am I? What is the purpose of life? How can I be happy? Where is the hope?
Perhaps you’ve heard that saying, “you don’t hold the market on truth,” which typically means that the person you’re talking to isn’t always right. And, there’s no one who’s correct about everything all the time. But, as it turns out, when it comes to the fundamental questions above, those who know and follow and love Jesus do have the market on truth.
Our theme this year at Grace is “Transformed by Truth,” and it comes from Romans 12:2– “Do not be conformed to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” As followers of Jesus, we are to let God’s word and his truth change us permanently, causing us to think about the world in a completely new way.
And, what is that way? This morning, in my quiet time, the Lord led me to Luke 10:21-22. Jesus is doing one of those things where he starts rejoicing with the Father in the presence of his disciples, I believe partially as an outpouring of spontaneous praise and partly to teach them some very important truths.
“At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, ‘I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do. All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and no one knows who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him.’”
It hit me that what Jesus is saying here is quite extraordinary. The “all things” he’s talking about here is all knowledge, all truth, and all reality. He’s saying God has given these things to him, and truth is in him and of him. What he’s saying is that Jesus isn’t just the only way to salvation, to restored relationship with God the Father. He’s more than that. He is the only way to the truth. The only way to know truth, reality, and the world as it was actually made to be is through Jesus Christ.
The world around us seems so strange, so odd, so foreign, doesn’t it? Whether it’s people struggling with their sexual identity and gender, other perspectives on identity, strange views on power (how to get it, what it’s for, and how to keep it), people pursuing contentment and happiness in all kinds of foreign ways, ways that at times seem shocking, it’s hard to understand why people think the way they do. The reason this world seems to us disconnected from reality is because it is. The world, as separated from Christ, is completely disconnected from the truth about life and reality; it’s devoid from the answers to the big questions about identity and meaning and hope and the beginning and the end. The world’s answers to these questions are illusory, virtual and fake, built on a lie. And, it is actually a lie–not a mistake, not confusion, although people may be misled and confused by the lie. The world’s answers are built on an actual lie engineered by a liar, a father of lies, who is very, very good at what he does. Everything else built upon that lie is unreal, as well, very convincing on the outside but rotten at its core.
The Matrix, Ready Player One, The Hunger Games, and other fictional tales are premised on the idea that what’s around us isn’t real, that someone is lying to us, and that once we peel back the glitz and glamor that deceives us, there’s actually a deeper reality that is truth. This reality may seem stark and hard at times, but it actually offers hope of a true joy, a deeper justice, one that is satisfying to our souls. The reason these stories resonate with us is that they are true. They are rooted in reality, and reflect things as they actually are.
Through Christ, God gives understanding of what is real and true, a way to see reality as it is. This is what it means to live inside the narrative, the story of Scripture. We know the source of all reality: that humans were created in God’s image, to reflect his glory and to live in perfect relationship with him; that through one person’s sin and all our sin, we became broken and separated from God, and we broke the world and all creation, too, making possible death, disease, and all the other effects of sin; that Christ came, died, and was resurrected to pay the penalty for all that sin and to restore us to God, making it possible for his people, his church to be reconciled to that perfect image and to one again glorify God by bridging the gap between the way things are and how they were and will be again; and that Christ will come again to restore everything, to judge and make all things new.
Not only is reality rooted in this story, but reality is also embedded in understanding how to live out the implications of this story in how we work, live, and play, and how we view all of life and all of creation around us. This story has everything to say about who we are, why we exist, where we are headed, what is our hope, and what all this means. The story acts as our teacher, leading us to become thinking, feeling, discerning lovers of God and each other.
As followers of Jesus, we are called to be the chief storytellers, tellers of this better story, one that is the only truth, the only reality. It’s the only story that makes sense of things like pain and trials and why I don’t always get what I deserve, whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing, and why bad things happen to good people, and why evil exists in the world, and also creates the entire framework for discerning “good” from “bad” and “evil,” anyway.
This is what we’re doing at Grace every day–bringing words of life and words of truth. That’s why what we’re all doing here, teachers, administrators, and family members, is so very important. Outside your own home, teaching reality and truth does not exist as an organizing, unifying educational construct in any other educational context but a Christian school like this one. Truth may be taught here and there, anecdotally, in one class or with one teacher or another, but not as a total, organizing coherent system around which families and students, as disciples of Jesus, can build a whole lifeview. This perspective can only be formed by doing life with others, in community, the way God created us to live, and that community exists only here.
The madness always encroaches in, the liar trying to lie to us and convince us that the lies are the true reality, the true system, and the way things are. The lies are powerful, and seem right at times, and can be convincing when we’re tired and weak, and dry. It’s too easy for the lies to infect us and draw us away from reality, into the madness. Which is why it’s critically important not only to be a part of a community of truth, but to submit ourselves to the truth every single day of our lives, through stillness, and silence, and steeping in God’s word. We’re truthtellers and truth-keepers and truth-sharers, and we have to hold that faithfully, humbly, and generously.