Loving God’s Truth in the Era of “Your Truth”
by David Sliker
The Dangers and Difficulties of the Era of Individual Truth
We live in an era of difficult questions with very few easy answers. America is a melting-pot nation with a diverse citizenry, a conglomeration of a very broad set of cultures, backgrounds, and perspectives. We live in an era of postmodern deconstructions paired with an honest (sometimes difficult, other times cynical) examination of our past.
Truths about our nation that once were points of patriotic pride are now the target of deep and painful questions involving oppression, race, economics, corruption, and power. There are skeletons in our national closet, some of which are attached to the Christian worldview of our fathers before us. The failures of the Church in the past, as well as the compromises of Her leaders, have also contributed to what is now a vacuum of moral authority, or the absence of a clear voice in our nation to answer the moral crisis and confusion that is now upon us. America no longer seems exceptional, and American Christianity seems for some to bring neither comfort nor answers to the challenges facing us in the days ahead.
It is in this light that when I recently met with a team of young adult pastors, I noted to them that they are ministering to young people during what I believe to be the most difficult time to do so in history. The combination of the re-examining of our past—re-telling our story as it was—and the loss of a clear, moral compass and strong, trusted moral voice has left us grasping for truth, yet finding little satisfaction, depth, or help in the answers we are given.
Young people I engage with can at times possess a deep longing for answers, combined with a deep distrust of anyone who offers them. Pastor Duke Kwon of Grace Meridian Hill in Washington, D.C., recently put it this way: “There is no interpretive certainty; indeed, certainty is a vice. When asked to explain the biblical basis for their views, their argument slides into a critique of the Church. They don’t know what they believe, or what the passage says, but it’s definitely ‘not that.'” The rejection of the Christian narrative has allowed for a secular narrative to take the dominant place in our culture and society.
The pressure to align to and express this secular narrative has never been greater. The anger and the attacks on Christians who simply state the basic tenets of Christian morality consistently include the label of hate. Social and cultural pressure is applied against Christians to keep biblical truth private and quiet, and to fall in line with the chorus of powerful voices that tell a different, humanistic story about life, love, tolerance, and acceptance.
Correspondingly, the power to define truth has passed from the institution to the individual. We have left the era of “the truth,” and entered into the hour of “your truth.” In the absence of trustworthy institutions and leaders, the individual has been given cultural and societal permission to craft a personal version of the truth. We are free to craft a version of the truth that fits our own individual story and experiences, and no one is free to disagree with or invalidate our version of the truth. What this means is that we have lost the power of truth in the manner in which community, which also provides a measure of healthy accountability, upholds it.
Objective truths, or moral absolutes, thrive within a context of community and accountability when truths are not just closely held, but shared amongst a people who mutually agree, for the sake of love, to yield to moral truths that function as a governing agent, binding them together and restraining the worst versions of themselves. Cultural voices have fought for and won the right of the individual to define truth from a personal, experiential lens. Morality has become flexible and able to flow from the individual’s preferences and pain. There is a cost to this shift: this deconstruction of moral absolutes, then, precedes the deconstruction of society itself.
Cultivating Loyalty and Love for God’s Truth
For the Christian who is filled with the Holy Spirit, confident in the identity of sons and daughters in Christ, this unraveling of society through moral confusion and dogmatic, angry insistence on loyalty to a narrative of self-destruction, is unthinkable. The biblical Christian, loyal to Jesus and His love and passion for the nations, is connected to the mandate from Jesus to be “salt and light” amongst the peoples. Salt preserves what rot and spoilage would destroy. Light reveals, showing the neighborhoods of the earth the beauty of God’s truth as His love shines forth. Light exposes, showing the people the fruitlessness of sin that destroys and divides.
A Christian who has tasted and experienced the beauty of Jesus and His restorative, renewing power longs for those who have not to enjoy God to the same measure that he or she has. The best evangelism flows from the life of the one who has known Jesus as a Father, and has experienced truth through the love and the power of the Holy Spirit in a way that has left them eternally and deeply transformed. The Christian that clings to truth from a place of instability and fear is one who rarely evangelizes or ministers to others, because of fighting not to lose rather than reaching for victory through an encounter with the beautiful riches of His grace and mercy.
The glory of the Christian life is that its truths are more than ideas—our truths are living and active, contained within power to receive and express love as the highest goal of our lives. Biblical truth is something far more than truth one merely believes (demons believe and tremble, as James wrote in his epistle). Biblical truth is something that we can see, feel, and touch as we watch it work within people we care about, bearing incredible fruit in their lives.
This is our great advantage within a decaying society. Prayer and worship empower the believer to engage with biblical truth from a starting point of humility rather than superiority. As a Christian, I do not begin with the premise that my nation is in great need of truth and transformation as I stand above in moral superiority. I begin with the premise that I am in great need of truth and transformation by the power and the grace of God. As I reach for truth with the power of the Holy Spirit as my resource and help, the truth impacts me, and causes my heart to come alive and flourish.
I find the answer for the moral decay around me when the gospel solves my own moral decay, and imparts within me a righteousness that is not my own. Truth from outside of me begins to first transform my perspective, then my emotions, working down into my desires and values, and ultimately transforming my behaviors and ability to love and be loved.
God’s truth was not something to be accepted; it was something that invaded. As it did, it re-wrote my story, and redefined my life and my future. Therefore, what I bring to a society that has empowered individuals to define truth for themselves (as long as it hews closely to the accepted secular narrative), is my story. What is unique about my story (and yours) is that it does not point to me, or my perspective. It points to Jesus and His story. My story folds into His, and has become about Him.
As Jesus said, simply and powerfully, we know a tree by its fruit. Our society may celebrate gender fluidity, but it cannot escape the fruit and impact of this celebration and empowerment on the family. A society that celebrates freedom to define self apart from our Maker, is a culture that defines love purely in terms of acceptance and tolerance of individual choice and perspective.
The Bible defines love through the manner in which Jesus loves us and our response in obedience to Him. Love, according to the Bible, is not about ourselves or how we feel. Love is defined by Jesus, and empowers us to be fully given to Him. All truth serves this end, and bears the fruit of true joy, deep satisfaction, and rest. The Christian loves truth because it empowers one to be unafraid and free to love and bless those around, even enemies. In the face of an unprecedented assault on truth, the Christian has a historic opportunity to demonstrate and proclaim truth from a place of deep transformation—out of brokenness into selfless, fearless love.
How can you seize this opportunity to be a messenger of truth?
If you’re looking for greater grounding in God’s Word so that you can proclaim the truth to others, consider International House of Prayer University. Receive training in music, ministry, and media, while being rooted in the study of God’s Word in an atmosphere of night-and-day prayer on a thriving missions base. Learn more: ihopu.org
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David Sliker has been a senior leader at the International House of Prayer Missions Base in Kansas City, Missouri, for the past 20 years. Ministering and serving with his wife, Tracey, and their four children, Riley, Lauren, Daniel, and Finney, David’s primary ministry calling is as an intercessor. Additionally, he ministers internationally, equipping saints in prayer, the power of the Holy Spirit, passion for the Word of God, and the proclamation of Jesus’ return. He is the president of International House of Prayer University, where he teaches about prayer and intimacy with Jesus, missions, biblical studies, and the return of Jesus. He is the author of End-Times Simplified: Preparing Your Heart for the Coming Storm, The Nations Rage: Prayer, Promise, and Power in an Anti-Christian Age, and The Triumph of Beauty: God’s Radiant Answer to the World’s Growing Darkness.