Let's Start with the Truth in 2021
How do we begin 2021 when the year is pock-marked with so many unknowns?
2020 began seemingly secure. It ended with many without jobs, businesses bankrupt or shut down completely, deaths caused by a foreign virus, churches facing scrutiny for closing and for staying open, and division over politics and mandates tearing apart relationships that were so secure just ten months ago.
It seems no matter what step we take we will face persecution. May I suggest that the steps worth taking are those on a solid foundation of truth.
What is truth?
It used to be a simple concept. Truth has a definition. The truth is pure. Undefiled. Not impacted by opinion or feelings or offenses.
If you jump out of a window you will fall. It doesn’t matter if you’re offended by gravity. The truth is unapologetic and demands you adjust your approach to getting from the 10th floor to the first floor if you don’t want to be harmed by the truth of gravity.
Violating truth has consequences. Some will be experienced immediately – such as jumping from a building. Others are experienced over a period of time – such as organ failure due to decades of drug use.
Abiding in truth has positive results – such as a longer life for healthier living (assuming one’s life isn’t cut short by some other outside influence). Or a marriage built on mutual trust, love, and respect when both people choose to love and honor one another above themselves.
Nearly four years ago I made a choice.
Instead of following a religious set of rules and regulations I decided I wanted to know Jesus for myself. I wanted a relationship with Him that wasn’t dictated by a system of religious dos and don’ts. If Jesus was “the way, the truth and the life,” (John 14:6) then I wanted to know Him.
I needed to know Him, because living a generally moral life and doing the ‘right’ religious things had me in a cycle of self-righteousness, disappointment, guilt, and perfectionism. Eventually I discovered my definition of truth was little more than opinion based on experiences.
So, I turned away from the religious mindset and laid down what I thought for sure was true to grab hold of what Jesus said was true.
I grabbed my Bible, the most accurate authority on the life and person and teachings of Jesus Christ, and I started reading. I started praying. If this book was true, one hundred percent true, then I needed God to prove it to me.
He called me to seek first His kingdom and everything I needed would be added to me (Matthew 6:33), so when money was tight and I couldn’t pay my bills, when food was scarce and I was taking what I could from the food bank, when I tore my last pair of decent jeans, I sought the kingdom and waited for God to provide.
If His word was true, then He loved me and would take care of my needs. And He did. Every time.
When I faced persecution and was the center of gossip, God told me He would fight for me, and I needed only to be still (Exodus 14:14) and that the truth would come to light (Luke 12:2-3), and that I needed to not retaliate in kind but bless those who persecuted me (Matthew 5:39; Romans 12:14).
I did. I didn’t always have a good attitude about it. I wrestled and argued with God. I complained. I waited. I trusted. I doubted. I chose to obey.
And I watched Him fight for me, bring the truth into the open, and cause my attackers to stop and eventually leave without my having to say or do anything at all. His way, His promises, proved true. Not just once, but over and over again. Not my way, but always in His.
In the last few years, I have come to know Jesus more intimately than I ever thought possible. I’ve chosen to stand on the truth of God’s word above all else. Even in the midst of the most frightening year I believe I’ve ever faced as a United States citizen and an unapologetically open follower of Jesus Christ, the truth found in Jesus is the surest foundation there is.
It used to be the Constitution and Bill of Rights was our security as Americans. Yet we’ve seen the proof of election fraud in the 2020 presidential election and, thus far, no accountability or consequences. We’ve seen authorities arrest small business owners for staying open to feed their families, and subsequently sit on their hands while people are literally murdered in the street.
A recent move for change in 2021 has to do with gender roles. There are mountains of statistics that prove the damage that comes to children who grow up without a father. There have been incredible moves of concerned citizens seeking to heal the carnage in the children caused by broken fathers. Now, recently re-elected House Speaker Nancy Pelosi introduced new house rules that advocates for the removal of all mention of gender-specific pronouns and terms such as “man,” “woman,” “mother” and “father.” If there is no “father” how can we heal the wounds of a fatherless generation?
This is the America we live in today. What are we supposed to do? Return to the Truth.
There is a truth that must be held to regardless of what our neighbors, family, and friends think. There is a truth clearly laid out in black and white that must be checked every time our preachers and teachers open their mouths at the pulpit, behind the microphone, in prayer, or anywhere. There is a truth that must be claimed and adhered to regardless of the policies put in place by our elected officials.
Let me just remind the reader that we in America are (at least for now) a republic. We elect the officials. We tell them what we want and when they don’t do what we want, we fire them. That’s how a republic works. Speak up.
Recently an ordained Methodist minister, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo., delivered the opening prayer for the 117th Congress. He quoted a passage in Numbers 6:24-26 praying that God would “bless us and keep us, make his face shine upon us and be gracious to us, lift up his countenance upon us and give us peace.” He closed it with “We ask it in the name of the monotheistic god, Brahma, and ‘god’ known by many names by many different faiths.”
His claim is that this god is the same across many faiths. No, Cleaver. They’re not. The God who spoke that passage in Numbers has a name, and it’s not Brahma. This God in the book of Numbers continued his blessing in verse 27 when he said, “So shall they put my name upon the people of Israel, and I will bless them” (Numbers 6:27, emphasis mine).
God has a name. His desire is that we put HIS name on us, over us, in us, and through us, and THEN He will bless us. There is no other way to blessing but through Him. What does this God look like? We look to Jesus, who said He and the Father are one and the same (John 10:30).
This God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to be His perfect representation to the world, to pay the price for our sin that we couldn’t pay, to die the death we all should have died, and raised Himself to life on the third day to give us salvation in His name for all who believe.
Truth has a name. It’s not Brahma, it’s not “the god of many faiths,” and it’s not Religion. The name of Truth is Jesus Christ, and if we want to begin 2021 with confidence and security, we begin it by surrendering to Jesus Christ.
He IS truth.