Today we will be talking about truth, and especially how we can find truth that affects our lives.
But this is new for us.
Because we aren’t on the look out for truth nearly as much as we are on our guard against things that are not true.
We tend to be pretty skeptical. No one wants to be made the fool, or tricked, or come across as looking gullible. This may have started when we were kids. Many of us were lucky enough to have amazing, loving, attentive parents.
Who also happened to be liars.
Think about a few lies almost all parents tell. Let’s say parents are on a walk or on a car trip with kids.
Child: How much longer?
Parent: We are almost there.
Are we really almost there? If by almost, you mean another two miles on foot, or another 3 hours in the car. Potato, Potahto.
Child: Where is the dog?
Parent: The dog went to live on a farm.
Oh yeah? What farm? Can we go visit? I didn’t think so.
Child: Can I go to the party?
Parent: We’ll see.
So as kids, we believed some of those lies from our parents, at least for a while. We thought, “maybe we are really are almost there. ” But then 12 hours later in the car, we thought “wait a second. I don’t think that was true.”
Or we really thought there was a farm somewhere, with all of our pets living happily together. But then one day we realized that’s not really how farms work. So as the years went on, we learned to be skeptical. We started side eyeing one another. Now we are always on the look-out for something not being true. We look for holes in the story. We try to root out anything that contradicts itself. At some level we feel better if we assume everyone is probably lying. Better safe than sorry.
Protecting ourselves from lies isn’t a bad skill to have. There are in fact a lot of tricksters out there, and some honestly bad people, who we need to be cautious about. No reason to go out into the world naive and wide eyed. Some people are lying, and we need to keep an eye on them.
But if we are always looking for lies, how do we figure out what is true?
Maybe we find truth through a process of elimination. We get rid of all the lies and whatever is left is might be true. But there has to be more than that for us. Our highest goal has to be more than simply avoiding looking foolish and then settling for what makes the cut.
What if there is some big truth out there that is worth looking for, searching for, a truth that can change your whole life?
Jesus sure thought there was.
Let’s look at this passage from Matthew and see what it has to say about truth. But first, let’s define how I am going to be using the word truth, which can mean a lot of things. For our purposes today, I am going to define truth as, conveniently for our series, everything Jesus taught. I’m not saying this how you have to define truth. I’m well aware that some of you may not believe in Jesus, so that can’t possibly be where you would start for a definition of truth. But this is the definition I am working from as we study this passage.
“Hear then the parable of the sower. When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what is sown in the heart; this is what was sown on the path.
Now wait a second. Just because someone doesn’t understand the word of the kingdom, then this evil one can come and snatch it away? The actual word here for “understand” comes from the Old Testament context of not only intellectual knowledge but also an inner commitment. He’s saying if you don’t hear that teaching of Jesus and then bury that truth deep in your heart and commit to it, it might not last long in your life. Going after truth isn’t hearing something, nodding, and moving on. It’s internalizing it. Making it a part of you.
The first obstacle to having truth, or what Jesus has taught, change our lives is when we hear stuff about Jesus and think “yeah, okay, sure.” We might believe it in our minds but we have not let it change our hearts.
As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet such a person has no root, but endures only for a while, and when trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, that person immediately falls away.
It’s pretty easy to have faith when things are easy, isn’t it? It’s like growing seeds in a bucket of fertilizer. Of course we thank God when things are pretty great. But this second obstacle to having God’s truth in your life really comes to a head when things get difficult. We are excited for what Jesus has to say when things are good, we love hearing things like “all things work together for good for those who love God”, but when we really find out if what Jesus has taught has changed us, when we really see if we think what Jesus has said is true, is when things get difficult. This is when we find out if the truth in our lives has deep enough roots to hang in there when things are bad.
As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the lure of wealth choke the word, and it yields nothing.
This third obstacle to truth is the most obvious for us. We are so distracted by our own worries and focus on things right in front of us that we don’t hear what Jesus is teaching us because those weeds and thorns are loud, and they choke out the truth of what we hear from Jesus. It’s hard to be open to what Jesus is saying to us when all we can hear are the lies we tell ourselves.
But as for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.”
I love this passage. Because I love plants almost as much as I love Jesus. And this year has been a great year in my garden, because it is the first year I have really worked at it. I have watered the plants deeply to help the roots form. I used the right fertilizers mixed with the soil. I have pulled out the weeds, and relocated the caterpillars. Growing plants takes work. But now I have so. many. tomatoes.
Truth works like that too.
If we want to see the evidence of Jesus’ teachings in our lives, we have to plant what he has taught in our hearts. What does this mean? It means you read what Jesus taught, and then read it again. And again. And don’t just think about it. Pray about it. Let it change you. Let it become a part of you.
You will still be skeptical when you hear lies around you, and you should be, but you will give equal attention to searching for truth. to believing that what Jesus teaches is worth letting your guard down for. Your life can change when you let Jesus’ teachings change you.
And when things get bad in your life, then you can hold on even tighter to what Jesus has taught. You need the truth Jesus offers so much more when things are bad than when they are good. When you are at the bottom, and you don’t know what to do next, you’ll need Jesus more than ever. You’ll need his teachings to have deep roots in your life so you can get through whatever you are dealing with.
This takes a lot of vigilance. The things around you are loud and demanding and will try to choke you out. Don’t let them. I can tell you it’s easier to keep these things out of your life if you weed everyday, instead of waiting for your worries to take over until you can barely remember what Jesus said.
There is so much more for us if we are willing to look for truth.
About the Author
Megan Collins is the co-pastor of Maitland Presbyterian Church near Orlando, FL. Find her on Twitter @pastormegan