Every year the Oxford English Dictionary publishes their ‘word of the year’. In 2016 this word was ‘Post-truth’. (Google: OED word of the year) The definition that they have given for this word is: Post-truth … an adjective defined as ‘relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief’.
Over the past few days I’ve read several articles (BBC, OED, Independent) about this new word ‘Post-truth’ and how in 2016 we saw a huge rise in the use of the word. All these articles seem to be saying the same thing, that we’re now living in a society where we’re being influenced more from an opinion, feelings or a lie, rather from fact and truth. Many of the large international news agencies and social media sites are now setting up teams of fact checkers to make sure that the news stories they’re publishing are based on truth and not lies or a person’s feelings or opinion.
This rise in ‘Post-truth’ is being credited to the greater division between rich and poor, the increased use of social media and the I AM generation, where I have an opinion and it’s my right to share that opinion to the world, whether it is based on fact or fiction, through social media. This can all be done at home, and in a few minutes the whole world can read it. This spike in ‘Post-truth’ has been linked particularly with the Brexit and the American presidential campaigns. As individuals and as a society, we may be rejecting truth, because it contradicts, challenges and exposes our own inner feelings and opinions, and how we live our lives.
The division between truth and lies has never really been clear, but with the rise over the past few years of ‘post truth’, we now have no way of knowing that what we see, read and hear is truth. We may then make a decision based on what we want to believe, and what suits us, not on fact and truth. Even Pilate, when he was questioning Jesus, asked Him “What is truth?” Jesus said “I have come into the world to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” Then we read ‘Pilate said to him, “What is truth?” After he had said this, he went back outside to the Jews and told them, “I find no guilt in him.”’ (John 18:37-38). And yet Pilate still sent him to be crucified!
For followers of Jesus Christ this is a stark warning for all of us that we’re entering a day where we no longer have a division between truth and lies. It’s being exchanged for a day where truth is becoming something believed to be false, and falsehood is becoming something believed to be true.
Jesus warns us very clearly that many false prophets will arise. It’s not just in the media outlets but within the Church itself. We’ll be fed false messages dressed as truth, and they’ll lead some astray. ‘Jesus answered, “See to it that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, claiming, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many”’ (Matthew 24:4).
He then also goes on to say “But the one who endures to the end will be saved” (Matthew 24:13). The one thing that we have to hold on to and stand firm in is the truth of Jesus Christ, that He came to us, died for us and rose again to save us from the penalty of death. And that He will come again. If we deviate from this truth in any way, confusion, doubt and unbelief may enter our hearts. We must always look to His word for truth and stand firm.
The truth is that it’s through Jesus Christ we can be set free. This is the truth that comes from the word of God. Test everything against the plumb line of truth that is the word of God, Jesus Christ.
Prayer: Father, help me to stand firm in the truth that comes from Your word. Help me to test all things against the plumb line of Jesus Christ. Thank You that You sent Your son to reveal the truth to my heart. Thank You that it’s in this truth that I can be saved and set free. Father, I pray that You shine Your light of truth into my heart. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
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