I have had to wear glasses for most of my life. Other than a few years wearing contacts, I’ve needed glasses to see clearly since I was a kid. These days, anything more than a few inches away from my face needs to either be fairly large or brightly colored, in order for me to make it out. Since reaching a certain age, my latest lenses have a no-line bifocal construction, so that – with their help – I can read up close and still see at a distance.
However, one of the side effects of such strong glasses is that straight lines often no longer look like straight lines. I tend to ask other people if a picture or clock is hung straight, and the corners of rooms and doorways look bowed, especially off to the side.
Truth is inherently distorted in a fallen world. Once human beings learned to lie and deceive, and allowed their pride to take over their better judgement, truth started to have competition. This contamination of the truth has continued to compound and worsen over time. See the passage below, where Jesus describes what those who don’t know God can’t receive:
I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.
John 14:16-17 NASB
In order to find whether or not something is truly “square” (i.e., correct in design and form), we need some standard that we can measure against. A straight edge placed against a surface quickly shows whether or not the latter is flat or bent. A plumb line shows us the direction of vertical (or, for physics majors, the local gravity vector).
In the same way, for us to measure whether or not something is true, we need an absolute, calibrated, flawless standard against which we can measure.
Jesus is the Truth. That is, not only is His message true, but His very self reflects the nature of God and perfect holiness. Backing up a few verses in John from the passage above:
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.
John 14:6 NASB
If we want to understand truth, we can look to Jesus. Not what we think is true. Not popular opinion. Not what famous people tell us. Just Jesus.
What Jesus told us about God the Father is true, as well as what He told us about Himself. His teachings about how God expects us to live are true, as well as our need for a Savior (i.e., Jesus Himself). However, we don’t only look to Jesus’ words to find truth. His life illustrated that He was telling the truth, as He exemplified righteousness and love. The miracles that He performed attested to His telling the truth, as well as the prophecies that He fulfilled. Ultimately, God’s resurrection of Jesus from the dead capped off the verification process for those seeking to confirm that Jesus was, indeed, the Truth (just like He said).
So, when trying to understand whether or not something is true today, we have the option of comparing it against the Truth. If someone claims that their behavior is morally correct, does it match up with how Jesus lived and taught? If we are trying to understand our place in the universe, does it correspond to the truths that Jesus affirmed from scripture? If our society seeks purpose and perspective, we cannot find our place unless our paths align with the Truth.
In a world where conflicting claims dare to drown us in noise and chaos, we may feel that we can’t find the straight and narrow path. To find truth, set aside all of the opinions that muddy the waters, and confirm for yourself who Jesus is. Listen to Him and ask the difficult questions about what Truth really is.
Once you are confident that you have (in Him) a pure, accurate reference point, everything else can be compared against that. Then, even if lies and conflicting opinions try to put things out of focus, we can still see through the distortion and compare what we experience against a well-aligned foundation of truth. Against a known reality, the correct answer and the right path become clear.
So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”
John 8:31-32 NASB