by Noel Bouché
During my school days, I rejoiced any time I encountered True/False questions on a test or quiz. Okay, okay, “rejoice” might be too strong of a word.
But I was certainly relieved, because a question that only required of me a decision between “T” and “F” simplified my world dramatically. I didn’t have to write out an original answer. I didn’t have to select from four or five potential answers. I just had to decide if the statement was “true” or “false,” and I had a 50/50 chance of getting it right, regardless of whether I even understood the question. It was a relief to have the world simplified down into such a tidy, undemanding decision.
If only life could always be that simple.
Alas, reality is far more complex. Which is why in real life many of us default back to the simplicity of those “true/false” exams from our school days. It is tempting, in the midst of the often confusing and fast-paced nature of life, to make quick and easy decisions about what is true and what is false, and to stick stubbornly to that position hoping that 50/50 odds are good enough to get us through.
Even more tempting, though, is the tendency to believe “true” is the same as “correct,” and “false” is the same as “incorrect.” Our years of filling in bubbles with No. 2 pencils taught us to think in those terms. Truth, though is not a matter of right or wrong. It is a matter of what is real, and what is real is discovered and experienced through relationship.
Indeed, the word truth originally meant “faithful,” “trustworthy,” “characterized by good faith,” concepts that only make sense in relationship. What is true, who is true, is revealed by faithfulness in relationship.
Which is why perhaps the most powerful description of our Creator and Redeemer is that He is “faithful and true” (Revelation 19:11).
He is the Way, and the Truth (John 14:6); His Word is true (Psalm 18:30), as are all His ways (Revelation 15:3). He will never leave us nor forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:8).
Which is why all of the schemes of the enemy of our soul are aimed at distorting the truth of God’s relationship to us, and ours to Him. “Where is God?”—the question that in one way or another rises so often in our hearts and is sown into our psyche—strikes at the very heart of truth: that He is with us, and will never leave us.
It is that intent to deceive that ultimately demonstrates what is false—indeed, the word false originally meant “to deceive or disappoint.” Something is false not because it is incorrect, but because it is unfaithful, and intended to harm.
And that may be the most extraordinary aspect of the Jesus’ responses to the temptations He faced in the wilderness–not simply that He responded with the Word of God, but that the Word of God confirmed and established the faithfulness of the Father and the Son in their relationship, in the face of what was false, distorted, and deceptive.