“I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because no lie is of the truth.” (1 John 2:21)

It was not the truth. Some said it was mistake. Others claimed it was a false prediction. On November 3, 1948, the Chicago Tribune mistakenly declared New York Governor Thomas Dewey the winner of his presidential race with incumbent Harry S. Truman in a front-page boldly-printed headline: “Dewey Defeats Truman.” In the weeks before the election, early Gallup polls forecasted the incumbent’s defeat. Truman chose not to use the press as a vehicle for getting his message across. Instead, in the summer of 1948, he went directly to the people on an ambitious 22,000-mile “whistle stop” railroad and automobile campaign tour. As the political underdog, Truman asked crowds at every destination to help him keep his job as president. When he went to bed on voting night, he was losing the election.  As returns were coming in slowly and the printing deadline at the Tribune was approaching, inexperienced workers filling in for staff members out on strike jumped the gun and published the soon-to-be untruthful headline.  In a now famous photograph snapped in the early morning hours after the election, a beaming and puzzled Truman is shown holding the Chicago Tribune issue that had wrongly predicted his political downfall. Truman had eventually defeated Dewey by 114 electoral votes.

Edgar Allan Poe once wrote: “Believe half of what you see and nothing of what you hear.” More and more, it seems like those who report the news have come to allow their personal interpretation of details to influence the story rather than simply convey the facts based on truth. It has been said that truth is relative, implying that we can’t trust it to be true all the time. Unfortunately, our society has grown to accept this kind of distorted truth. The great evangelist Billy Graham once told a story about a clergyman who had friend employed as an actor. The actor was drawing large crowds of people, and the clergyman was preaching to only a few in the church. He said to his actor friend, “Why is it that you draw great crowds, and I have no audience at all? Your words are sheer fiction, and mine are unchangeable truth.” The actor’s reply was quite simple. “I present my fiction as though it were truth; you present your truth as though it were fiction.” Graham concluded: “I fear that so often we Christians give the idea that the truth is fiction by the way we live and by the lack of dedication to the teachings of our Lord.”

The secular world is increasingly teaching that all truth is relative – a simple matter of each person’s perspective. Some things may appear true to you but may not resonate truth to me. If you believe it, it is true for you. If I don’t believe it, it is not true for me. Many people reduce any question of God or religion to this type of conjecture. The Apostle Paul would confront them with this astounding certainty: “But God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people who suppress the truth by their wickedness. They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them. For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God” (Romans 1:18-20). Those who have come to understand God’s intense love for us through His Son Jesus recognize that the truth personified by Christ is not relative. The existence of absolute truth is a necessary foundation of Christianity. in John 14:6, Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” In other words, truth is the very fabric of His being and defines who He is. On the other hand, Satan is described as the “father of all lies” (John 8:44). His mission is to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10) and to counterfeit every blessing and promise God has in store for us. The task of every Christian is to declare and demonstrate the truth that is found only in Jesus.  Truth is the only sure foundation on which to build one’s life, because it is the only stable force capable of withstanding the pressures of this world where finding the real truth is often deceptive.

REFLECTION: Can you think of common statements that confuse absolute and relative truth about your faith? How do you compassionately reason that Jesus represents the true path to God? In what ways might neglecting to know and follow God’s Word suppress His truth as you interact with others each day? Ask God to reveal the areas in your life that you are not fully acknowledging His life-giving truth.


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