What is Truth?
Pilate said to him, “What is truth?” John 18:38
I heard someone say the other day that he’d realized his first impulsive response, in almost every situation, was wrong. I had to laugh bitterly, as I’ve also found this to be true in my life. This isn’t just about my drug addiction. I’ve had to accept that my first reaction to most life challenges is counterproductive. This has been somewhat difficult to admit. I always think I’m right and the greater the life stressor, the more likely I am to dig my heels in and do things my way.
Brutal honesty is often painful. For the addict though, if he wants to find recovery, the uncomfortable truth is absolutely necessary. The addict literally risks his life by continuing down his own path. In following myself, I nearly killed everything I loved, and I eventually had to admit that my way was an absolute disaster. In my disaster, if I wanted to turn things around, I had to accept that my path was no longer to be trusted and that I desperately needed something different to follow. My way was a lie and I needed the truth.
What is the truth though? What does the addict (or anyone) need to follow? This was Pilate’s question to Jesus in today’s passage. When interrogated, Jesus answered that he was the truth and that anyone who knew the truth, listened to him. Pilate, lost and unwilling to follow Christ, responded in despair, “What is truth?”
This is where a lot of us stand, even if we don’t like to admit it. We’ve been shown the truth. We know how we should live. Again though, brutal honesty with ourselves is hard. We think we want the truth, but we don’t really. The truth stood right in front of Pilate, but he remained unwilling to accept it, because if he did, he would have had to radically transform his life. Likewise, if we truly accept that our way is a lie, we’d have to completely change our lives to follow God. Even if we’re miserable, we’d often prefer to simply continue following ourselves.
This is where the addict may have some advantage. The addict knows through painful experience that his path is absolutely corrupt, leading only to destruction. The challenge for the addict, and for all of us, is to put that knowledge into action, abandoning our lie to follow God’s truth.