For those who are old enough to remember the show Dragnet you might remember Joe Friday. Do you remember him saying, “just the facts ma’am?” Many do, however he actually never said those words in any episode. There was a satire of him by Stan Freberg where he attributed that to him and it stuck. Year’s later people are still quoting Joe Friday as the author. It was close to the story, it looked and it smelled like the story but it was inaccurate, not the truth.
This week’s blog is about God’s truthfulness, specifically in the area of veracity. Veracity defined is a conformity to facts; accuracy. Close to the truth may work at Dairy Queen where you just yearn and hope that they measure MORE when filling your ice cream cone but in science or finance accuracy is much more important. The opposite of veracity is inaccurate, dishonest and false. Isn’t it strange how we wrongly believe that we hold truth while others do not. That type of thinking creates all kinds of barriers in church, business, families and more.
Rodney Dangerfield once said, “I don’t understand women. They spend 3 hours on makeup, they buy things to make them look smaller, they buy things to make them look bigger then they meet a man and tell him they want the truth.” That’s funny but true of both genders, right? Sometimes men do the same thing when they ask for feedback but only hear the positive. Both genders get sucked up in that because we are human, not divine. We all want to be told the truth but maybe not with the same passion that we want to speak the truth.
In several different disciplines I have heard the story of the blind men and the elephant. It goes something like this: Several blind men discovered an elephant, the one who touched his leg thought he was like a tree, the one that touched his trunk felt he was like a snake, the one that touched his tail thought he was like a rope, etc. This story has been used for a long time for various “points”. For the purposes of the blog I just want to mention that without discovery, curiosity and time investment no one can see clearly. Getting different perspectives, understanding different views and being humble enough to seek out someone else’s opinion affords the viewer clearer sight. Only God can see the whole puzzle at any given time. Whether its education, collaboration, discovery or time, all those things can add to human “truth”. But God, He does not need our input, opinions or skill, He is just truth all day every day.
Jesus, when He walked the earth said, “I AM the truth”. (John 14). No wonder they crucified Him. Even in our culture today that would not go over well. He was either highly arrogant or God. His claims still make people angry today because His statement says that He not only embodied truth but that He is truth. There is no falsehood, corruption, blemish, deceit or cunning in Him. He challenged the status quo and how they measured truth.
It was a practice during biblical times for people to carry two sets of weights in their bags. One was for their friends, relatives and chums and the other set was for anyone they were not favored to fancy. They weighed things one way for their kin and another way for “foreigners” and unsavory individuals. The Old and New Testament speaks against this. I used to think this was pretty stupid and heavy to carry around. Now that I’m older, I wonder if we don’t mentally do that today – just without the rocks. This person gets my smile, this person gets my evaluation. Maybe we categorize truth like these folks but just use different measures. I’m going to put you in this category, me too. It is kind of a we thing – in our culture, churches, nation. We can be individually, corporately and nationally guilty. We need to be able to see our own sins and hypocrisy and be very cautious when we weigh or judge others. It will always be skewed. Perhaps that is why God reserves the role of ultimate judge and motive discerner.
Maybe, just maybe that is why Jesus died. To pay the payment we exact from others we don’t fancy. Maybe He shed His blood to even the score, once for all. Maybe when grace was poured out for me or you, it was also poured out for that other guy and all his failures, faults and shortcomings.
So, what does this have to do with God’s veracity? We can’t speak truth if we don’t know Truth. We can’t declare something that is broken, cloudy or blind. It seems like everything in the human realm might be a little tainted from sin and sinfulness whether its pride, ambition, selfishness, etc. We choose to believe what we believe; we choose to see things how we want to see them, leaving a whole lot of information out of the equation.
What hope is there then? Possibly by looking at God’s measures, that Jesus is the standard and only true standard of truth. By understanding that Jesus is the epitome of real, pure truth that might give us a couple seconds or two of humility and self- perspective that would help in our judgements. If we speak of His life, His truth, His Lordship it might at least bend us in the right direction.
When we soak in prayer, Bible study, etc. we will align with God’s heart for our lives. When I was considering this topic of veracity I realized these basic spiritual disciplines are so essential and foundational to everything we say and do. It will also align us with God’s truth rather than living out our own truths. We can’t live lives of truth if we don’t know God’s truth. That also puts a high premium on education and fellowship. Hanging out with those who keep this as their passion might also help nestle us in the midst of God’s will. We were in a wonderful worship service Sunday morning. It did not go as the people planned but I rejoiced in hearing the words of the song and then again as they stayed in my heart the next day: If God moves to the left, I move to the left, if He moves to the right, I move to the right. Then another song was God will break down walls and fears for me (reckless love). Those powerful affirmations of truth burrowed in my shaky heart. It did exactly what worship should do – exalt God and remind those serving Him that He is God and we are not. It was so sweet and refreshing.
Why does this matter? Well, in a nation that is very polarized we can step aside and acknowledge that we may not have the full picture. We err when we believe we have or know all truth. It also defies Gods position as true Judge. A wise man pointed out this week (actually it was 2) that we don’t have to pick one side or another but can stay steady and choose the Lord’s side. Maybe that is why 2 Chronicles 7:14 -15 says, “ If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. Now mine eyes shall be open, and mine ears attentive to the prayer that is made in this place…”
Lord, we surrender our “truth”, measures, weights and opinions to Your Lordship. Forgive us for jamming our beliefs through rather than surrendering to Your opinions and will. Thread Your truth thru our lives so we can be true to You and true in speaking with others. Help us to see through Your eyes and Word. Help us to know You as the Truth we know and live by. Help us to speak only after we have sought clarity and sought YOU. Forgive us kind father for presuming to know others hearts or Your will for their lives. Work Your truth in and through us we pray. Amen. (Read Colossians 1)