Strength for the Week: Flood Church’s Weekly Devotional
Series 1: The Voice of God
A Truthful Voice
“Because I tell the truth, you do not believe me! Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me?” (John 8:45-46)
Technology has given us access to more information than we ever imagined possible. However, this does not necessarily mean that we have access to or interest in the truth. One reason is that technology gives us the power to choose what we want to hear, whom we want to hear from, when we want to hear, and why we want to hear. If you see that the person calling your phone is someone you don’t want to hear from or someone who wants to hear you say something you don’t want to, ignoring the call on purpose is an easy option now with cell phones. In other words, technology enables us to filter the information coming our way, even when it is true. The condition of our hearts is such that we do not value information primarily for its truthfulness, but for its usefulness and pleasantness. If I can use what you have to say to achieve some other goal or if I am going to like it, then I want to hear it. But if what you have to say is about what’s wrong with me or about something I am not going to like or about how I need to change a pattern of thought and action that pleases me, then I don’t want to hear it.
As you can see, while the volumes of data and the means of accessing it has greatly advanced over the centuries, our twisted attitude towards the truth has not. We still have an agenda to spin the truth, sugarcoat the truth, delay the truth, soften the truth, avoid the truth, attack the truth, and discredit the truth. For example, two rebellious brothers coming back home from a party their parents told them not to go to may agree either about which of them should “do the talking” or about what version of events to tell their parents. This is because even if the parents truly love them, the boys may be so lost in the thrill of their rebellion that the distance between them and their parents’ love creates the false impression that the parents are the enemy. The moment the line is drawn and you see someone as an enemy belonging to a side that opposes whatever side you belong to, it is hard to hear the truth from that person and harder still to speak the truth to them. As Winston Churchill said, where there is war, the truth becomes surrounded by a bodyguard of lies.
This is why Jesus said that one of the signs that we truly belong to him is that we believe him because he tells us the truth. In fact, he went as far as saying that refusing to believe him or reacting with hostility to the truth he tells us shows that we don’t in fact belong to God: “Whoever belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.” (John 8:47) Furthermore, it means “you belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:44) You may be wondering what truth Jesus could possibly say that anyone would refuse to hear it. Well, he was crucified because sinners did not like what Jesus had to say about his God or their sin.
It’s not that we don’t want to have anything to do with God, but we just want to extract from him the bits we like and throw away the rest. It’s not that we don’t know that we are sinners, but we just want to remove the consequences God places on sin. We live under our own illusions so much that there are truths we can never fully see or understand without Jesus; truths about the kind of God he is and the kind of sinner we are. If we make something to be a sin that God doesn’t, either to feel good about ourselves or to feel justified in our condemnation of others, we will find Jesus’ truth hard to swallow. If we make something to not be a sin when God says it is, either to feel good about ourselves or to feel justified in our condoning of wrongdoers, Jesus will feel more like an enemy than a friend. It is in our attitude and response to the truth Jesus says to us about God and about ourselves that we prove whether or not we belong to him. To follow Jesus is to lay down your self-deceiving defenses and to place yourself in the middle of a road on which the full force of his truth about God and your sin can run you over. Does his truth hurt? Yes, more than you can imagine, but only in those parts of you that don’t belong to him.
Keep the Faith