Monday, March 30, 2020

Two Vital Truths

There are two types of truth in this world, and I'm not talking about truths that contradict or compete with one another. These two types of truth are both vital to who we are as persons of faith, and we live our best witness when we are able to embrace them both at the same time. But it isn't so easy. Most of us tend toward one or the other. 

It's tempting to call these truths "sacred truth" and "human truth," but to do so would be to create an unnecessary confusion. Because when we hear these terms, we think that it's about authority somehow, that one truth is about what God says and one is about what man says, and that's not at all what I'm getting at. So rather than trying to define these truths by what they are, it's best to define them by what they do. 

So the two truths we're talking about are the truth that you anchor to and the truth that you connect with. 

The truth that you anchor to is the unchangeable, absolute truth of God. It is the truth about what is real and what is happening and what matters. It's the "facts," if you will. The truth that you anchor to gives you something to set your feet on. It's the solid foundation from which you set out to live and love in the world. It's the things you can know for absolute certain, the things that aren't going to change when your circumstances change. Here, we're talking about truths like 'God loves you' and 'God is good' and 'God knew about this before you did and is working it together for good, just watch.' 

These are the things that I always tell others are non-negotiable. Whatever you encounter or experience in this world, whatever questions you find that you ever have to ask, are not allowed to make you question these things. Because we do that all the time, right? We find ways to explain our current situation, whatever it is, by causing ourselves to wonder all over again if God is good or if He loves us. No. God is good and He loves us and these things don't change, so whatever explanations you come up with for why the world is the way it is can't contradict this truth. This is the truth that you anchor to. It is the place from where you start and the place you run back to when things get a little crazy. It keeps your ship upright in stormy waters. 

The truth that you connect with is the truth of fallible human experience. It is the truth about what it feels like to live in a broken world. It's the reality of wrestling with sin and death, even under the promise of redemption and eternal life. It's the common thread that binds us all together, that makes sense of our being human beings. It's the truth that, when you hear someone else speak it, sets your soul at ease because you're not the only one. It's the truth that you relate to, and it's the truth that binds us together. 

In the life of faith, this is the truth we're talking about when we talk about being 'confessional' with one another. There's something vulnerable, yet authentic, about it. It puts real skin on the matters of life and love and lets things be a little messy...or a lot messy. It admits its limitations, especially when it comes to understanding, and it holds on to this thing we call faith - demonstrating that little leap we have to make over the space we don't understand in order to hold onto the truth that we anchor to in a life that feels anything but steady. 

These truths are not at odds with one another. One is not 'right' and the other 'wrong.' Rather, they complement one another and create a full picture of what it means to be human in a broken world, to be faithful in a storm. We need them both. 

Even now.

We need to be a people who seek out and hold onto facts, onto those things that we can know for sure or with reasonable certainty. This includes the things that we know about God - that He is good, that He loves us, that none of what's going on right now is a surprise to Him. It also includes what we can know from those who have invested their lives into studying things like this - the doctors and leaders who are guiding us through these times. 

But we also need to be a people who seek out and hold onto each other, onto those uncertainties and insecurities that plague us all right now. This includes the questions we all have, about whether we know enough or whether we're doing enough. It includes the real grief and heartache and fear and stress about the ways that our lives have changed and are changing. It includes the real human impact of staying six feet away from one another and working at home and staying at home and trying to find toilet paper. 

With these two truths in tandem, we demonstrate what it means to be a people of faith, by being a people of faith. Real human beings with a real God in a real world with its real troubles, doing our best to live out a real love for the Lord and for one another. 

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