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Monday, November 21, 2011

Truth Never Changes

A week ago I attended a breakfast meeting in which an 85-year-old Mennonite bishop, Martin Lehman, shared some of his experiences as a lifelong servant of the church. One comment he made especially grabbed my attention: "Truth never changes. Our understanding of truth may certainly change, but not the truth itself."

I know this flies in the face of postmodern doubts about whether any such thing as truth actually exists, but I've been reflecting a lot on what Lehman went on to say, that our search for truth is something like journeying toward a distant mountain. We first see our destination from afar, and from what appears to be a simple, one-dimensional perspective. As we get closer, it not only appears larger but also more intricate and intriguing. We see so many nuances and details we could only imagine from farther away.

Maybe this is the way it is as we pursue truth about God and about ultimate reality. We can at first only "see through a glass, dimly," as from a distance. Only at some later day can we hope to see more of ultimate truth "face to face," up close and personal.

That resonates with me. At least for myself, the nearer I get to the end of my journey, at 72, the more I realize how limited my perspective is, and how much more there is to know. As someone has observed, the larger our island of knowledge, the longer our shoreline of wonder.

And not only does the mystery of the divine seem ever greater to me, so does my sense of God's mercy. I see myself with ever more of my fragile and broken fellow human beings as in the welcoming embrace of God's grace, as in the words of Frederick William Faber:

There's a wideness in God's mercy

Like the wideness of the sea;
There's a kindness in his justice
Which is more than liberty.

While we will never fully understand all truth, I believe truth itself is a trusted friend we can follow safely wherever it takes us. Truth, along with amazing grace, has the power to set us free.

And that's the truth.
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