Monday, September 2, 2013

Truth Is True... Except When It's Not

Truth is a powerful commodity.  Possessors of truth have the upper hand in business dealings and in marital conflicts.  The power of truth is that it is unchanging and universal which allows it to be foundational.  Truth guarantees outcomes.  It keeps planes in the air and boats above the water.  Decisions made in the absence of truth can sink a business, ruin a marriage, and destine a church for failure.  I believe there are absolute truths; saved people go to heaven, gravity keeps me from floating away, and my wife will forever have the advantage in arguments because her memory is better than mine.  But what happens when truth isn’t true?

"If you want to infuriate your spouse and discourage your employees... then demand your methods"

The Book of Acts chapter 13 details an encounter between Paul, one of the premier patriarchs of Christianity, and a sorcerer named Elymus who was opposing the spread of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  In this interaction Saul (later known as Paul) proclaimed blindness on the sorcerer as a sign of the punishment of God for his opposition of truth.  Prior to Saul’s conversion he was an enemy of Christians, hunting and killing them in order to prevent the spread of Christianity.  What I find interesting is that Saul was stricken with blindness by the Lord, which ultimately led to his being converted to Christianity.  I wonder if Saul’s use of blindness on the sorcerer wasn’t partly driven by a belief that if the sorcerer experienced what Saul experienced then it would lead him to Christ as well.  The truth for Saul was that blindness from God can bring someone to faith in Jesus Christ.  There is no record of the sorcerer’s conversion to Christianity.  What was truth for Saul was not true for the sorcerer.  While the message of Jesus Christ was the same, the method of conversion was not.

"People teach what they know"

People teach what they know and a lot of what we know we have been taught. But when people learn through experience they are often more passionate about the truths revealed to them in those moments and they consider themselves experts of those truths.  Leaders can become convinced that if you will do what they did then you can achieve the same level of success they achieved.  Spouses can believe that what communicates love and appreciation to them is how their spouses should perceive love and appreciation (see Gary Chapman’s book The Five Love Languages).  It seems the common belief is that “what worked for me will work for you”.  If you have ever heard someone tell you how they treat their spouse, how they raised or punished their children, how they grew their business or how they became successful then you have heard someone share with you their truth of method.  Desperate followers and desperate husbands and wives eagerly embrace the exacting formulas offered by “truth experts” in hopes that this truth method will also prove true in their lives.

Truth is true, except when it’s not.  What was true for you is not necessarily true for others.  What things you did/do to bring you success worked for you, your personality, your character, your strengths but they may not work for others.  In fact they most likely will not work for the majority of others.  The way you perceive and give love, while it is true for you, may not be true for your spouse or your children.

"The message of Jesus Christ was the same, the method of conversion was not"

If we’re not careful we can become so enamored with the power of our own experiential truths that we condemn others for not for embracing them too.  Different does not equal wrong.  If I don’t embrace your truth it doesn’t mean I won’t succeed, it just means I won’t be you.   If you want to infuriate your spouse and discourage your colleagues and employees, then demand your methods.  If you want to be a developer of others, then be aware of the people around you and the ways they are different and help them experience and embrace the truth that works for them.  Just to be clear, God’s truths revealed in scripture are absolute truths; our experiential truths are not always absolute.  

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