Above the doorway to the old Library at the University of Texas, there was a quote: You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.” It’s a reference to John 8:31, which is a pretty familiar verse. But do you remember what Jesus said just BEFORE he uttered those famous words? “Jesus therefore said to those Jews that had believed him, ‘If ye abide in my word, then are you truly my disciples; and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:31-32 ASV)
In a world where tons and tons of slanted opinions are tossed at us (read: Facebook, Twitter, CNN vs Fox, TV commercials, politics), the truth is becoming a rare and precious commodity. Every day you are presented with tons of information. How much of it is factual and how much of it is questionable? How do you know what is authentic and true versus what is twisted and spun?
There is a famous movie line from “A Few Good Men”, a movie starring Jack Nicholson and Tom Cruise. Jack Nicholson, playing an arrogant Marine Colonel, was on trial for an incident that resulted in the death of a young Marine. The prosecuting attorney, (a young) Tom Cruise, pushed relentlessly to get answers about what happened. Challenged to deliver the facts, Nicholson finally snarled, “You want the TRUTH?! You can’t handle the truth!” The truth has consequences, as the story went on to demonstrate. But then, so does falsehood…
A Modern Example
I still remember being encouraged several years ago because Congress declared that they were giving us a tax cut. Naturally I assumed that my taxes would therefore be lower. When my tax bill came, I found I was paying MORE in taxes! I actually called a congressman’s office to ask what happened to the tax cut. I wanted the TRUTH!
Their answer was classic congressional double-talk: they told me that even though my total tax bill was higher, I was paying “less” in taxes because they had reduced the amount my taxes were scheduled to go up! There was a “tax cut”, alright, but it was a “cut” that INCREASED what I had to pay.
Art or Science?
The art of prevarication is more sophisticated and subtle today than it has ever been in history. Over a century and a half ago, Mark Twain said “A lie will make it halfway around the world before the truth has had a chance to put its boots on.” That was before we had the internet, BEFORE information could travel at the speed of lies. What is spin and what is factual? What headlines matter, and what is click-bait? As Bill Clinton once said, “That depends on what your definition of the word “is”, is… In our politics and in our culture, deception has been raised to an art form, and it is far more common and pervasive today than it was when Mr. Twain made his astute observation.
With the advent of deep-fake videos, AI-generated headlines, and gas-lighting, I think it’s only going to get MORE difficult to determine what the truth IS, much less handle it.
How do we know what is true and what is not? I have heard it said that when the Treasury Department trains agents how to detect counterfeit bills, they don’t waste time studying every possible variation. They invest time in knowing the original backwards and forwards. They are so attuned to the true original that they develop sort of an inner “truth meter” that detects flaws and irregularities in the counterfeit script. This sounds a little simplistic, to be honest, but the principle makes sense. By being intimately familiar with the real thing–with TRUTH–Treasury Agents can then detect the phony variations of it.
Here’s the Key
Most people remember Jesus said “the truth shall make you free.” What they forget is that he prefaced that remark not by saying, “read lots of men’s opinions”, or “watch the nightly news”, and certainly not, “get on Social Media”… He said to abide in his word. Give that a try. Know who Jesus really is. Bask in his words. Be intimately familiar with the truth. Then when you hear a variation of it your Truth Meter will go off like crazy!
Handle It Well
The truth, I’ve said, and I’ll say it again
Is harder find than “A Few Good Men”,
When our culture tries to dismantle it,
And Jack Nicholson says, “You can’t handle it!”
It gets to be so strenuous, detecting the disingenuous
When things reported by the press
are not the truth, but something less.
Of all the things that come at you,
how can you tell which ones are true?
Things can be fake, if digital, so study the original:
Whether mature or just a youth, get to know the solid truth–
Know Jesus. Get to know His word, and out of everything you’ve heard,
Of everything that you can see, know this: The truth will set you free.
To buy my latest book, Real People, Real Christmas: Thirty-one Days Discovering the Hidden Treasures of the Christmas Story, go here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1729034918/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
For Slaying Giants: Thirty Days with David, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Slaying-Giants-Thirty-Devotions-Ordinary/dp/172568327X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1535814431&sr=8-1&keywords=Slaying+Giants%3A+Thirty+Days+With+David
To buy my book, Beggar’s Bread, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Devotions-Ordinary-Guy/dp/1535457392/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-1&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread