The Write Place- Curtis Bruce Kessler

October 21, 2011

You Can’t Handle the Truth!

Filed under: Uncategorized — cbkessler @ 10:50 am
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I still remember the famous line by actor Jack Nicholson during a courtroom scene in the film

A Few Good Men,

“The truth? You can’t handle the truth!”
In this particular scene Nicholson’s character was on the witness stand responding to a lawyer played by Tom Cruise who demanded, “I want the truth!”

One man thought he was above the truth and the other man thought that getting to the truth was enough. We see similar conflicts all around us. No one is above the truth (or above the law) and just getting the truth or even knowing the truth isn’t ‘enough’ because truth has a price. Truth will demand consequences, responsibility, and accountability. Are you and I willing to pay the cost? That is the dilemma facing us all.

Tragically, we may be nearing a tipping point regarding truth in our society. Have you noticed when truth is discussed today it is done through the lens of suspicion, accusation, or derision? A perfect example is in a Blog entitled The Story of Truth. The premise is that truth is revealed incrementally. Every person believes in, becomes part of, or creates a “story” that explains these vignettes of truth. The Blogger writes “If we can learn anything from history it is this, we don’t know all is there is to know. Be gracious enough to realize that and don’t behave with the arrogance and stupidity of one who believes he does know. The universe has not yet revealed her secrets, the rate at which things are changing today, the future is unimaginable, and things will reveal themselves in the next generation that will fundamentally shift what we call real. This is already happening only it takes some time for these things to filter through into the general world view.” Truth for this Blogger is subjective, allusive, and anything but divine. The source of truth is nature. In his mind surely rational people understand that the universe is constantly evolving and is slowly revealing its precious nuggets of truth, thus, it is naturally acquired over time. His resulting conclusion is that no human being can ever make the claim to have all the truth. Based on this logic Jesus is the king of stupidity and arrogance.

Understanding the difference between knowledge and truth is important. Knowledge is derived from the process of learning, reasoning, logic, experiences, and accumulation of facts known or unknown. You can have all the knowledge in the world yet not be any closer to truth “…always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth.” (2 Tim.3:7) Sometimes what we know is challenged and must either be corrected or affirmed. Knowledge can be faulty. Thus, knowledge is an important fluidic process that is challenging, invigorating, and necessary. We are constantly growing. We want to know more. Thankfully knowledge is not left alone. This is the importance of truth. Truth is the stabilizer of raw knowledge. Truth brings order out of chaos. You would not say for instance that if you have truth you wouldn’t have knowledge. I would not jump off a roof of a five story building. Why? Well, because I know the truth about gravity. The end result will be truly painful and I will die. Truth opens the door to knowing. Truth gives knowledge the foundation needed for rational thought and moral behavior. Truth affirms knowledge. Truth enables knowledge to expand. I think the real rub is this- truth is not the invention of man but is rooted in God (or for the Blogger above the Intelligence behind nature and the universe). He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. (Eccl.3:11)

A well-known statement of Jesus has probably crossed your mind by this time. The statement is “You will know the truth and the truth will make you free.” This is indeed an awesome principle and a succinct point for the moment but just quoting this verse alone misses a very key element. Notice the complete statement as found in John 8:31-32 “Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” See the difference? By reading the full context we have a deeper understanding of and application of His use of the word truth. Here is something extremely fundamental yet so easily glossed over. Remain faithful to my teachings Jesus said AND you will know the truth and find real freedom. The cost then for truth is to believe and be faithful to His teachings. Remaining faithful means that we will personally accept all consequences, take full responsibility, and be held accountable to the teachings and standards of Jesus Christ. This is not arrogance or stupidity; rather, this is the high calling of truth that is relevant, essential, life-changing, and liberating! I point you back to my opening quote “The truth? You can’t handle the truth!” John 18:37 “You are a king, then!” said Pilate. Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”

Bruce Kessler, pastor South Canadian valley Church of Christ


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