We live in a pluralistic society where relativism reigns supreme. What you believe about ultimate truth – who God is, who man is, what’s wrong with the world, what happens when we die – is a private, personal decision. The decisions we make about sexuality, spirituality, and our lifestyle ought not to be questioned by outsiders. So as Christians we talk a lot about having relationships before we speak truth (which is a good thing), but not always for the right reasons. I think in part, we believe what our culture says about truth: it’s private and personal. So questioning someone’s belief is like attacking his person. We are so wary about discussing truth that we put up ambiguous barriers, to justify our failure to share truth, like saying “I just don’t have the right relationship.” For some reason that feels more loving. Perhaps because culture says love is taking someone as they are, while helping them fulfill their personal destiny. The Bible, however, gives a radically different picture of love. And few things are as unloving as withholding the truth. Why? Because lies about God and ourselves destroy lives.
The prophet Jeremiah personally witnessed the destruction produced by false prophets (those who claimed to speak truth, but instead spoke lies),
Your prophets have seen for you
false and deceptive visions;
they have not exposed your iniquity
to restore your fortunes,
but have seen for you oracles
that are false and misleading.
. . . All your enemies
rail against you;
they hiss, they gnash their teeth,
they cry: “We have swallowed her!
Ah, this is the day we longed for;
now we have it; we see it!” (Lamentations 2:14, 16)
Jeremiah’s city, Jerusalem, was filled with false prophets. These false prophets excused Jerusalem’s idolatry, sexual immorality, and social injustices. When people in Jerusalem felt guilt for sinning, these false prophets soothed their guilt with deceit. When Jeremiah warned them about the impending judgment of God by war, death, famine and pestilence, the false prophets denied Jeremiah’s prophecy. They told Jerusalem that it would survive every attack, so they did not repent.
Of course, the false prophets were wrong. In verse 16 we learn that Jerusalem’s enemies prevailed. Thus, many people died from hunger, pestilence and the sword. The political elite, intellectual elite, and religious elite were either exiled to Babylon or slaughtered. The poor were put under the heavy yoke of serving foreign masters.
The false prophets’ lies about God destroyed thousands of lives. It’s a terrifying picture. It’s a convicting picture.
What about us? Are we false prophets to our own hearts? To others? How often do we read God’s word piecemeal? How often do we ignore his commands? Do we falsely assuage our guilt? Do we teach false doctrines to other, because they feel more acceptable?
The ethic of relativism says that sharing truth destroys lives, because proselytizing someone takes a way their unique, personal right to determine their own truth. This ethic is a demonic deception that threatens to turn all of us into self-deceiving false prophets who destroy lives. That’s why Christians must value and share truth. Jesus felt the exact same way. Before his execution on the cross Jesus told Pontius Pilate why he came into the world,
… For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice. (John 18:37)
Jesus came into the world to bear witness to the truth. He came to set people free from the lies and deceptions that held them captive to this world. Why? Because lies destroy lives, but truth makes people new.
You see, Jesus told us the most profound truth: that while we were still sinners, he willingly died for us. He paid the cost for our transgressions and in doing so reconciled us to his heavenly father. Therefore, all who receive him, who believe in his name, he gives the right to become children of God, born not of blood or the will of the flesh, but of the will of God. He remakes us.
Easter confronts American cultural relativism. Easter reminds us that God came and died to to free us with truth, not shackle us with empty, destructive, false relativism.