Jesus aligned himself with the truth as the personified pathway to life in John 14:6—“I am the way, and the truth, and the life.” He elevated his invincible life even in the face of crucifixion.
Jesus clearly meant to reassure disciples both then and now. Yet there are different approaches to truth—even among believers. One version is strictly objective. It treats truth as a combination of sound information and reliable insights. A physicist or a mathematician handles this sort of truth as the coinage of science. So, too, a banker or a car mechanic needs to maintain truth to keep customers.
We rely on truth—as reliable claims—for life to work. Truth can be as mundane as listing the service hours for a bank or as ordinary as a car warrantee. Such promises include assurances that our deposits are protected and insured; and that the car repairs are assured. In business we rely on contracts; and on trustworthy courts if disagreements emerge.
There is also the subjective side of truth. We can be shattered if someone we trust turns out to be a liar. When the lie finally surfaces we’re left to wonder about every other word he or she shared with us. And afterwards we feel used and bruised.
Now let’s probe the question of truth and trust by adding another factor: love.
Does a bank love us when it shelters our deposits? Or is it because the bankers embrace the benefit of staying in business? Do grocery stores post “true” hours because they love their customers? Or as a practical necessity?
Most of us are fine with this sort of pragmatic truth in passing relations. People may treat others as objects—as clients or customers—but that’s fine as long as we treat each other in a friendly and honest fashion. Virtual strangers certainly don’t expect us to love them!
In a heart-based relationship on the other hand—in a marriage or profound friendship—love is the glue that makes the relationship work. Call this a subjective rather than an objective bond. Words of love rather than business contracts tie the relationships together. Unlike our finely balanced business bonds, with love we offer ourselves freely in sacrificial devotion. Words, time, and resources are the investments of love.
In Christ, however, our informal distinction between objective and subjective realms; or beloved friends and casual contacts is dismissed. Instead there is complete continuity: everything was made through him and for him, “and in him all things hold together” (Col. 1:16-17). So even if we objectify the material world and the laws of nature the Bible reminds us that our creator knows us intimately and is the source of nature as it surrounds and supports us. He also loves your distant banker as much as he loves you.
And with insight we get to see every moment of life as a place for enjoyment and fellowship: as a place made by Jesus and for Jesus, yet with us in mind. The creation is for God’s people; and God enjoys our pleasure us as we treasure his handiwork. This would have been part of Paul’s thinking when he invited believers to glorify God in everything—even as we “eat or drink” (1 Cor. 10:31). And when he called on Christian servants to do their work “as to the Lord and not to man” (Eph. 6:7) because every feature of Christian life is linked to the Lord. As the creator and sustainer of the world he stands behind every particular aspect of life. And if we lose track of this we can slip into serving the creation rather than the Creator. We can also forget the story of the Good Samaritan whose love for a neighbor wasn’t conditioned by a close bond.
Another way to say this is that our love of Christ must include a love of his entire creation reality. Call it, collectively, a love of his divine Truth—as a response to who he is and to what he does.
I’m pressing this Truth connection because we now live in a “disenchanted” world. The certainty of centuries past that everything in nature is God’s handiwork has now been abandoned even among many Christians. And it’s a huge mistake. Because it reduces our Triune God to a narrow realm called “religion.” And it limits our worship to strictly “spiritual” events that we find in church and in our occasional prayers. It allows neighbors to be “on their own” or “not my concern.”
The truth is that God is active in every moment of life and in every sphere of life—so there isn’t a real division between the secular and sacred. A key reality of the Gospel message—as we reach out to those deceived by Satan and who have “refused to love the truth and so be saved” (2 Thess. 2:10)—is that a delight in Christ is part of his Spirit’s work in us
Christian love, then, is broader than Sunday songs and sermons. It is, instead, the love of Jesus as “the Truth” who first loved us in every measure imaginable—and now pours that love out through us to others.