Truth is defined as an accord with fact or reality, or fidelity to an original or to a standard or ideal.
Truth is the opposite of falsehood and lies.
I recently sat with Joel and talked about one of my sporting heroes, Lance Armstrong and how his entire world of success, fame and celebrity was built on lies. Joel knows that as a keen cyclist I'm upset about the Armstrong story and he also knows there are two groups of people I hate in life: thieves and liars. I hope that using the story of Armstrong my boys will grow to respect truth and favour it.
So this morning I was watching the news and once again the Chris Huhne story was taking up much of the time. For those that don't know he is/was a British politician who told a stupid lie about 10 years ago and finally it has come back to bite him on the bum. Huhne was caught on camera speeding but he denied it and got his wife to say it was her so she got the fine and penalty points. In doing this he not only lied but committed perjury. Today, 10 years later he has admitted his guilt and in so doing has destroyed his career although the real tragedy here is that he's lost the respect of his son. Huhne is looking at a prison sentence but nothing will punish him like the loss of his son's respect!
Armstrong turned out to be a serial liar, a cheat and a voracious bully. Armstrong knew that throughout his entire cycling career and all his 'wins' he had been cheating by using drugs and whenever he was challenged he attacked his accusers. David Walsh a journalist with The Times in London was sued by Armstrong and lost costing The Times over £1million. Today David has been vindicated and The Times is now suing Armstrong for the money back. Good on them!
I've also been struck recently by just how much we were lead to believe as kids and young adults that turned out to be completely false. we were told it was good to save for a rainy day. It turns out it rains every day and those that did save got spanked by the banks for it. We were told that endowments were the only way to go to buy a house, pay it off and have a secure future. What a load of horse dung that turned out to be. We were lead to believe that Jimmy Saville (together with a few other TV personalities and radio DJs) was a good bloke who made many kids dreams come true. In fact he was every child's worst nightmare.
Over the years I've been lied about, just as I'm sure you have been too. But in 2011 things took an ugly turn and got really nasty. People who should have known better started lying about me. Their reasons for this are unclear and only they can be clear about them. For me I got to the point where my name was mud and I could see no way that I would ever work for the church again and definitely not here in the Western Cape. I remember being on the beach and crying in prayer to God asking him to show me how to move forwards.
Thankfully the truth always stands.
Jesus said in John's gospel "Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free". Jesus was talking in the context of being a disciple of his and holding to his teachings. If we hold onto those teachings and follow Jesus we know him and are set free by him. Whilst this verse is about Jesus it can also be applied as a general theory about truth. Forget all the philosophical debates about truth being consensual, coherent or pragmatic, truth will set you free.
Had Armstrong told the truth back in the late 1990s there would have been a bit of a media circus but it would have died away and he would have been free to carry on in cycling. Truth would have set him free. Sadly he chose falsehood, the opposite of truth and his life has been one of bondage to his lies. He had to fight his accusers and attack them. He had to tell more lies to cover the original lies so that when truth finally stood he crashed and burnt big time.
The same is true with Huhne, had he told the truth he would have received a fine and 3 penalty points on his driving licence, a years ban and a spell of public humiliation but that would have been it. Other than an increase in his insurance premiums he would have been free to live his life. Instead he lied, then he lied to cover the lies, then he got his wife to lie. Today he's divorced, disgraced, has resigned his job, is facing a prison sentence and has lost the respect of his son.
The joy for Huhne and Armstrong is that in time if they hold on to the truth they will realise that the truth can in fact set them free, though I imagine it's going to be a very difficult journey for them both. I'm not a betting man but if I were I would have a flutter on the likelihood of Armstrong going to prison. Oprah asked him during her interview "Are you facing your demons?" He might be beginning to face them but he will definitely face them full on when he's sat all alone in a prison cell having lost all his money and abandoned by his 'friends'. It's all so pointless and could have been avoided!
Jesus also tells us in John 3:21 that "..whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God". When I was crying on the beach I felt God remind me of this and the fact that as a Christian my role is not to fight but to stand. Sure I was to put on the armour of God but having done that I was to stand. We're not told to go into battle, we're not told to fight, we're told to stand. "Therefore put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand" Ephesians 6:13. So I decided to do just that. At no point in 2011 did I fight against the lies and the liars, rather I kept quiet and let my actions speak for themselves. Thankfully in a short space of time the lies got sillier and sillier until eventually someone told a lie about me which involved another pastor. Thankfully this pastor knew the lie to be false and from that point on he questioned everything the liars had been telling him. Today I lead Tree Of Life Church and I'm convinced that this is part of God's way of showing the liars just what he meant in John 3:21.
Now I'm not perfect, far from it, but as I tell my boys, there are two groups of people that I hate, thieves and liars and I strive to model truth to my boys. I fail them, that's part of being human, but I'm confident that they've never heard Daddy stand up and tell a blatant lie to the detriment of others.
The tragedy of Armstrong and Huhne is that they are like children caught with their hands in the cookie jar. They're not sorry for what they've done, rather they are sorry for getting caught. They do not know the truth and as such cannot be set free by it. I just hope and pray that in time they will be set free.
All I know is this, everything I grew up believing turned out to be a lie but when I was growing up no-one told me about the carpenter's son from Nazareth who would eventually be murdered on a cross because of the lies told about him. Jesus is the way the truth and the life!