One of the unique challenges facing church, culture, and even politics is the slow death of truth. We live in a world where opinion has supplanted the authority of truth. ESPN no longer highlights actual sports but opinion shows about sports. Most news outlets feature debate shows or political round tables more than they feature the actual reporting of news.
Recently, commentators Don Lemon of CNN and Carlson Tucker of Fox News were relieved of their anchor duties because their colorful commentary finally crossed lines that their networks deemed inappropriate. Social media lights up on a nightly basis with misinformed or poorly informed opinions that are spewed with the dogmatic force of a literary sledgehammer.
There was once a time where our opinions were informed by the truth. In an age where truth is no longer objective, opinion is now the foundation of our subjective truths. We no longer use terms like “the truth.” That type of objective language is rejected in contemporary discourse. Most people are referring to the truth in a much more personal way, using terms like “my truth” or “your truth.”
So we no longer look to the news to find the truth.
So we no longer look to the news to find the truth. We find news outlets whose perception of truth aligns with our opinion. The people we follow on Instagram or Twitter are not people who challenge our views but they reinforce our views. We seek schools or academic venues where our core values are celebrated not opposed. And when it comes to religious choices, we mine the YouTube rabbit hole deeper and deeper until we find some teacher/prophet/pastor who says something we vibe with.
This radical cultural shift challenges the church in a unique way. Our evangelistic branding has been centered around having the truth. What made us stand out was the bold assertion that we had the truth. And it worked for many generations. But what do we do and what adjustments must be made to reach a fallen culture which shows a constantly evolving contempt for truth?
I don’t think we abandon preaching the truth of the Bible, salvation or prophecy. It must be preached in the context of compassion, in church environments that care. We used to be able to do one at the expense of the other and that time has swiftly come to an end.
As the old adage says, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Modalities shift all the time. But the one timeless modality is that of authentic, compassionate, care for broken, hurting humanity.
The radical thought shift is where we see love as truth, not some mushy addendum to truth. Love makes us relevant, attractive, fresh, and it makes the difficult truths of the Bible palatable. This is what Paul tried to teach the church at Corinth.
“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing” (I Corinthians 13:1-3 NKJV).
Let this be the great lesson learned during our time. That love is not a dilution of the truth. It bolsters, reinforces, and bolsters the truth.
Debleaire Snell is the Speaker/Director of Breath of Life, and the senior pastor of the Oakwood University Seventh-day Adventist Church in Huntsville, Alabama.
All scriptural texts are taken from the King James Version unless otherwise indicated.
This article is part of our 2023 July/August Issue