The Sustaining Power of God’s Truth
By Dr. Ben S. Malayang III, President
(Message delivered during the Faculty and Staff Conference held July 20, 2015 at the Silliman University Church.)
TEXTS: Psalm 23, 54:4; Hebrews 1:3a
Let us pray: Thank you Lord that you are just a prayer away. Thank you for this time. And thank you for being with us. Amen.
In John 18:38, Pilate asks Jesus: “What is truth?”
Silence. Jesus did not reply.
An intriguing silence. It is mystifying. Jesus did not explain truth. Many might quickly do when asked this question, but Jesus did not explain his view of truth. He did not say what it is. He did not go into a lengthy discourse of his idea of what is truth.
Truth is among the most fundamental enigmas in Philosophy. Since before Socrates to this day, philosophers have been grappling and offering many ideas and thoughts on what is truth. It is elusive in that it is hard to find a universal consensus on what it is, just as it is hard to find universal consensus on what is good, or what is right, or what is beautiful.
Perhaps Jesus did not answer Pilate because either he thought that they could not agree on it anyway (as there are many ways of thinking about truth), or that he thought that the truth about God being in him, that he is clearly and without doubt God’s son, is intuitive. Pilate knew that God was in Jesus, and Jesus knew that Pilate knew.
In fact, knowing what’s true about God is as intuitive as knowing what is to be good, what is to be kind, and what is to be truly caring of others. Despite its being a fun object for mental acrobatics and theological discourse, the truth about God – like that God is real, that God is good, or that God is love, that God is justice, and that God is beautiful – is deeply ingrained and embedded in every person’s soul.
I submit for our meditation today that there are three intuitive truths about our God that possess tremendous power to sustain us in good or bad times, or good and bad circumstances we find ourselves.
First, there is tremendous sustaining power in knowing that the Bible is God’s truth. When viewed, and deeply believed, to be God’s written truth for us, the Bible quickly assumes power as guide for how we are to deal with the different turns and twists in our lives. How to care and love others? The Bible has lots to say about it. You are out and down? Read the Bible and be refreshed. In fear and trembling in dread? Read the Bible and be calmed. The Bible is like a GPS in our lives. Lost? Wandering from place to place? Don’t know how to reach a destination? Read the Bible and get your sure bearings and directions. With such power like a GPS that can tell you where to turn and where to go, to be assured that you can reach destinations you haven’t been before, I submit that the Bible, as the written truth of God, has real power to sustain.
My second intuitive truth about our God is that Christ is the living testimony of God. He epitomizes and lives out the reality, justice, and love of God. Christ is God’s full revelation in human form. Believing this – that God is in Christ and that Christ is in God – creates tremendous power to sustain us in times of helplessness, in times of blessings, in times of joy, in times of grief. Imagine this: what fears, or anxieties, or feelings of being lost, being less, or being last, could possibly put us down when we know deeply, in faith, that we have Christ, the Son of God, and that Christ, God’s Son, has us?
My third intuitive truth about God is this: God is real. He is as real as I am real, and as real as the acacia trees in Silliman are real. Many hold a sacred meaning of God. Religions everywhere have sacred concepts of God. They have doctrines on who is God, and the reality of God in our world. But however viewed in sacred terms, there is one reality of God that hardly any religion will deny. And that is, that when all is said and done, God is the embodiment of coherent order. When the physicist Albert Einstein went deeper into how the universe acquires coherence, he reached beyond the boundaries of physics and began to believe that there must be God. The coherence and order we see in our world, like how physical force relates to mass and acceleration, how compounds behave, the beauty of mathematical relationships, the rhymes in our poetry, the uplifting effects of a disciplined order of notes and sounds, the basic logic of our hierarchies of values, all these eventually, ultimately, if we are really honest enough, will lead us to conclude that there must be God, and that God must be real. I submit that seeing the reality of God being manifest in the unshakeable laws of our world has tremendous power to sustain. As Harold Clurman, author of Nine Plays of the Modern Theater would put it, “the recognition of God as embodying the concept of coherent order rationally and transcendentally illumines the chaos of our existence.” Without it, human life, Clurman says, “would be like a desert plain, without a clear path, no clear directions. . .” where, I might add, anywhere is everywhere. Absent a sense of order, humans, says Clurman, “pine for someone or something to come to our life and give it meaning, and when nothing comes because too often we really only wait for the Godots of our existence, it (meaning) will not come.” Without a sense of order, without an assurance of coherence as only God could give, our life becomes meaningless. And so, we know this: a deep seated belief in the reality of God, in the reality of someone more powerful than we are, in the reality of someone who assures that despite how we mess up our life, there is God who can straighten us up, this provides powerful assurance of coherence and order in our world, in our relationships, and in our future. It provides meaning to our existence. And where we have meaning, life has power.
The Bible, Christ, God – there is intuitive truth in each and all of them. And it is a truth that gives power and meaning to our lives.
Be honest. Truly honest. Then see – and live – this truth.
In the name of Christ – the via, veritas, vita – Amen.