By Mary Ann Herzan
Spirituality is in vogue today; celebrities tout their gurus; psychics on television and the Internet beckon us to call and find out our future. People are encouraged to find the spirituality that fits them and as long as they are happy with it, supposedly it is good and it is true. Others call us to be inclusive, embracing all religions, telling us “it really is the same God.” Isn’t it strange how many of these other religions will say Jesus was a good man and a prophet, but totally disregard what He said, especially about Himself?
From time to time I have spoken with a young woman who describes herself as “on a spiritual journey.” She has investigated many avenues from New Age to Jehovah’s Witnesses. It is obvious that she is more enamored with a spirituality that is a little shocking, wanting people to notice her. At one point I said, “You don’t want spirituality just to be spiritual, do you? You want truth!”
As Christians, we know and proclaim that Jesus is “the way, the truth, and the life.” He is the One who said, “No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). Yet, have you ever wondered why so few people seem to really want truth, or how there can be such debate, even among Christians, as to what is true?
I would like to share two main thoughts from Scripture that have been helpful to me as I have sought to know and witness truth. The first is the intent of the heart. In John 7:17 Jesus says, “If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God…” This is a major prerequisite for knowing and receiving truth. Do I really want to know and do God’s will? If I am after anything else, such as validation of my own desires or pride, I can be misled. Satan used the Word of God to tempt Jesus in the wilderness. The pure intent of Jesus’ heart towards the Father and His will allowed Him to see the deceptive twist Satan was putting on the truth. It is situations like this where the Holy Spirit steps in to guard and warn the sincere heart with that little nudge deep inside-the one that tells you, “This sounds right, but it doesn’t feel right.” This is a time to ask the Holy Spirit for revelation, for just as Jesus promised, “…when He, the Spirit of truth has come, He will guide you into all truth” (John 16:13).
The second thought comes from Jesus’ words in John 8:31-32, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” From the parable of the sower we are taught that the Word of God is like seed which needs to be received in good soil and given time to grow (Luke 8:15). In other words, the Word (seed) must abide in the heart (good soil) in order to become what it is meant to be. Life-changing truth is not just having the seed but the plant that comes from it. Many debates about the Word happen when the seed is the focus. We memorize the seed, we quote the seed, but have we planted the seed and experienced its growth? Do we walk humbly with our God, giving Him time to flower His Word and His truth in us? We can walk around with bags of seed, puffed up at our vast store of knowledge (1 Corinthians 8:1), and try to impress and push the world and one another, or we can plant the seeds of truth, and in patience bring a healing touch and witness to the world. The growth that comes from the seed looks much different than the seed itself. To debate or deny the fruit of truth’s seed is far more difficult than to debate or deny its dry seed. We can not fully know truth until we experience its growth within us. I would rather have a few good seeds that flower into maturity than a bag full of dry seeds. But this takes a yielded heart; this takes time; this takes “abiding” in Him and His Word, and allowing the Word to abide in us.
All that our Lord endured was so that we might know the truth and that the truth would set us free. Let us seek to have open and soft hearts where truth can grow in all its beauty, that He might be glorified in us and that the world might be drawn to Him.
“Oh, send forth Your light and Your truth! Let them lead me.” – Psalm 43:3
Mary Ann Herzan is director of David’s Heart, a ministry of East Immanuel Lutheran Church in St. Paul, MN.