You don’t have to be a student of world history or a fan of murder mysteries to understand why truth is so important to discerning goodness—just look at your social media feed. Unlike the compact boundaries of a village, the digital world sprawls, leaving us with a type of informational vertigo. But it’s not simply that we have too much information; it’s that we have too little shared reality. Like the characters in a mystery, we don’t know what is true and what isn’t. We can’t agree on who is an expert and who isn’t. So more often than not, we simply craft our own reality and can’t be bothered with whether we share it with anyone else or not. As author Kurt Andersen notes:
Today, each of us is freer than ever to custom-make reality, to believe whatever and pretend to be whoever we wish. Which makes all the lines between actual and fictional blur and disappear more easily. Truth in general becomes flexible, personal, subjective.
The result is a confusing muddied experience of the world. When my “facts” collide with your “facts,” it results in anger, conflict, mistrust, and isolation. Family members blocking and unfriending family members. Perfect strangers yelling and belittling each other. Communities coming apart at the seams—not simply because we can’t agree on what is good and valuable, but because we can’t even agree on what is true anymore. And slowly but surely, our separately constructed realities cut us off from each other and lead us to solitude. Surrounded by a mass of people, we feel unloved and misunderstood, for the simple fact that we’ve created millions of worlds with a population of one.
“Slowly but surely, our separately constructed realities cut us off from each other and lead us to solitude.”
Because shared reality is necessary to a good, flourishing life, Paul begins Philippians 4:8 by calling us to first seek “whatever is true.” The importance of shared reality to a good, flourishing life also explains why the serpent attacked truth from the start and why Jesus links falsehood with murder. “You are of your father the devil,” He says in John 8:44. “He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. . . . He is a liar and the father of lies.” When the serpent lied to the woman about the consequences of disobedience, he, in effect, murdered her, bringing death and isolation upon the human race.
And when we lie to and about each other, we destroy the bonds of community that sustain life, effectively destroying the people in them.
by Hannah Anderson
Winner of the 2018 TGC Book Award for Christian Living “And God saw that it was good…” Look out over the world today, it seems a far cry...
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