According to a report out in the late last year, ‘post-truth’ was named the 2016 word of the year by Oxford Dictionaries.
Post-truth? Yes. Welcome to the 21st Century where we contemplate how the truth matters less and less.
In case you are wondering, the dictionary defines 'post-truth' as “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.”
I must confess that I think there’s something to this.
Take my preaching as an example. There’s rarely a Sunday that goes by that people do not surprise me by what they heard in my sermon. Individuals from widely different backgrounds and perspectives will hear my sermon and come to very different conclusions about what they heard me say.
In full transparency, I often find myself thinking: “You heard me say what?!”
I am no different, y’all. I frequently hear what I want to hear.
Matt Sapp, a pastor in North Georgia, calls this confirmation bias--“the idea that we are more likely to uncritically accept ideas or opinions as true if they tend to reinforce what we already believe.”
I don’t think it’s a stretch to identify this as a problem. We cannot simply resort to calling facts and truth that don’t align with our hunches and predilections, ‘alternate facts.’ This will not do.
We need a stronger anchor in our lives than the fragile, and elastic tether of our confirmation biases. Without something to hold us in place, the waves and winds will likely lead us into some dark and terrible waters.
Jesus Christ is our anchor. And his anchor holds.
Jesus said… “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me (John 14:6)."
Followers of God’s Son profess that Jesus is the way. The Greek word that we translate as ‘way’ connotes a road, a journey, not unlike Isaiah’s prophecy: “A highway shall be there, and it shall be called the Holy Way; the unclean shall not travel on it, but it shall be for God’s people; no traveler, not even fools, shall go astray (Isaiah 35:8).”
Jesus is the way that we know the Father. We know God—and His story, His commandments, His love, and His promise—through Jesus, His son. Jesus is the way we understand ourselves, the way we interpret events and circumstances around us, and the way we know how to respond to them.
Jesus is the Truth. Earlier, the Gospel writer told us that Jesus is the Word of God. This reassures us that our God wants to be known, wants to be encountered, wants to be understood. Jesus, then, is the explanation of God. Awareness of God and His plan for us is liberating. “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free (John 8:31-32).”
Remember, as Baptists, we covenant with one another to read and understand scripture in light of Jesus. But we cannot stop there. We should seek to understand our world through the authority of Jesus, which he defines as the Kingdom of God.
Jesus is life, both for eternity and in the here and now. Jesus is the one who tells us right from wrong. Not our own inclinations. And certainly not what is driven by our own self-interest or loyalty to a particular tribe or way of thinking. Jesus is the true north in our world.
If ever there was a time to profess the Lordship of Jesus, it is today. We need to be anchored to something far stronger than the forces of persuasion and deceit that is present in every aspect of our world. For if we allow ourselves to interpret and experience our culture according to someone else’s vision, we will be powerless to where they might want to lead us.
Without Jesus as our anchor, there’s no telling where we’ll end up and what we’ll look like when we get there.
Don’t just hold on loosely, people. Cling to Christ with everything you’ve got. He is our life, he is our way forward, he is what is right in a world full of wrong.