Jesus Walks into a Bar
Superficial ~ Fundamental
Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you’re going. So how can we know the way?” Jesus answered him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one goes to the Father except through me. If you have known me, you will also know my Father. From now on you know him through me and have seen him in me.” John 14:5–7 (GW)
Some may want to say that all religions are fundamentally the same but superficially different. This is an attempt to avoid a true or false label out of politeness. And so we bend to the call for tolerance. How we interact with people of other religions in openness demonstrating Christ’s care for all of humanity has nothing to do with the fact that there is a true and false when it comes to religion.
Simply put, everything cannot be true. You cannot say all religions are true unless you are willing to open the door for the reverse, that all religions are false. We must be prepared to defend the truth of Jesus and identify what is false in the alternatives. Superficial differences will prove to be fundamental. Jesus tells us fundamentally, we have no options. He is the way, the truth, the life.
Recall a “water cooler” conversation you’ve had about religion and reflect on whether it treated differences as superficial or fundamental. Ask God to give you a clear understanding of His fundamentals as you dive into His Word.
Truth is _____________
“… and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail. Isaiah 58:11ESV
People like to act like Truth is a fill in the blank with interchangeable answers. We might contend simply on the basis that our truth is true and others are mislead, confused, blind, uninformed, _________ fill in the blank with an adjective! We’re calling names, but not really identifying truth.
Let me present another option for understanding truth. The text above from Isaiah says in this English translation that a spring of water does not fail, it always has water. That is the underlying meaning of this wonderful promise of restoration God is giving. Yet in fact, the Hebrew says the spring does not lie. In Hebrew thought truth is like a faithful spring that can be relied on. It won’t let you down.
When we examine the truth of a religion’s claim we have to ask, is it faithful? Does it work? Does it deliver as promised? The answers to those questions will tell us the truth. So, by Easter evening the disciples may have still been trying to make sense of all they had seen and heard with Jesus over the past years, but thy knew it was the truth. His resurrection delivers on the promise. Jesus works!
Reflect on how God has proven faithful, true. Think deeply through that truth and turn your thoughts into a detailed prayer of praise.
Truth and Freedom
This chapter of the Gospel of John is an intricate account of Jesus’ debates about the truth of his teaching. Notice that as other contend with him he does not back off or seek compromise. Read through it carefully and see how Jesus clearly takes a stand on the truth that he is the Son of God.
In the core of the debate he turns to those who believe him and said, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Reflect on how the truth that the Son of God gave his life for you has brought freedom to your life, freedom from sin, freedom from death, freedom from the deception and accusations of the Devil. Turn those thoughts into a prayer of thanksgiving.
Apply the Truth
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” John 3:16–17 (ESV)
Jesus said we can know God, we can see God’s intent and purpose for the world, and for ourselves. Apply that and read this common verse. Replace the world with your name. Read it aloud and let the truth ring. Repeat as needed.
Now as a further declaration of its truth, consider who it is in your circle of connection does not know this truth. As a prayer for that person, insert their name - God so loved _________, that he gave his only Son… close your prayer asking the Holy Spirit to prepare the way for this person to hear the truth.
Speak the Truth
“… we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.” Ephesians 4:15 (NLT)
Truth has to be spoken so prepare to speak, but remember to speak it with love. Prepare your “elevator story” of God’s truth. That’s a short, direct recounting of how the truth of Jesus has proven true for you. Tell how you have experienced the truth, the faithfulness of God. Tell how Jesus has made the difference in your life. The point is to prepare so you ave the truth ready at hand when needed. Sit down and write out your story now. Read it through, edit, rewrite, get it set in your mind so you’re ready to speak the truth in a manner that echoes the love Christ holds for the person you’ll be speaking to.
Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you where and when to tell your story.
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