When Jesus said, “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32), he was talking about himself who is the way, the truth, and the life. However, his promise that truth will set you free demands that we should be committed to truth. God expects us to be truthful.
The context of the passage indicates that Jesus took aim at the devil and all those who emulate him. He said, “You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44, ESV).
What characterizes those who follow Jesus and those who follow Devil? People who follow Jesus tend to value truth, whereas those who follow the opposing camp value lies.
When we deal with conflict, differences of opinions, and crises we hurry towards “peace” ignoring truth on the way. However, I believe this is not Jesus’ way.
Let us consider a hypothetical case of a conflict involving two Christian believers, “A” and “B”. “A” claims that “B” owes him some money which “B” denies. Revd “C” (could be their pastor or friend) gets involved as a mediator to resolve this problem. “C” is kind who loves peace. He would like to resolve this difference between the two Christian brothers as quickly as possible with as little damage as possible. So, he offers “A” the sum of money he claims “B” owes him. “C” is willing to part with that amount for the sake of peace.
This sort of problem solving gets applause from all of us. It looks great! Peace and sacrifice, love for all brothers that are involved here. God’s Word, however, tells us that is not the right approach to solving the problem. This approach lacks the quest for truth that is the hallmark of Christians.
Let us consider the alternatives. In this approach, Revd “C” first should prove if “B” really owes “A” any money or if “A” is making a false claim. If it is a false claim, then he should rebuke “A” in a Christian spirit. However, if “A” is right and if “B” is not willing or unable to pay the amount of money that he owes, then “C” as a lover of peace may offer to pay it up. In this scenario there is peace, sacrifice, love while upholding the truth.
When trying to resolve conflicts, we demand silence from those crying out for justice overlooking truth. Although the establishment of truth can be painful, bypassing it does not lead to true love and peace. Moreover, it supplies the polluted ground to breed and proliferate lies. But the pain and effort are worth the effort for the sake of truth. This lack of penchant for the truth has made our world miserable. As the prophet puts it, our world has made ‘lie our refuge and falsehood our hiding place’ (Isaiah 28:15).