The Truth of the Matter

There’s a Reba McEntire song called, “What Do You Say?” that has a line that is repeated several times:  “Just close your eyes and let your heart lead the way.” She’s talking about knowing what to say in difficult situations, but that line really stood out to me. It reminded of nearly every person I’ve met in my life.

Part of the major attractions of Post-modernism is that fact that deconstructionalism (i.e., the attempt to dismantle any sense of “absolutes” in reality, truth, etc.) attempts to make everything relative. Therefore, if truth is not the standard, but a preference, then I get to decide what I consider truth to be. Isn’t this great? We no longer have to say things like, “we all know that’s wrong or right,” or “that’s not fair.” We can only say, “that does not keep the societal preferences.” There is no “true religion,” there is only what you do and what I do, and that’s all about personal preference.  Truth is gone; now we have preferences. It’s like we’ve handed in Truth for a person’s personal taste for food. You might like vanilla; I like chocolate. Now, this blog is not about how illogical and inadequate this notion of Truth is; this blog is only about how this fundamentally-flawed philosophical position has been bought—wholesale—by most Christians. And it’s devastating. It reduces the truth of the gospel (and His promises) to my personal feelings.

This is not a novel observation. There have been plenty of pundits before me who have noticed it; even predicted it. Nearly every Christian I meet today (and in the last decade of my ministry) really do believe, or are highly tempted to believe, that Christianity is right for him or her. It’s what “floats my boat,” “makes me feel better,” “helps me know that granny is waiting on me in the afterlife,” and so forth. Rarely do I meet modern Christians who believe Christianity to be valid because it’s True; they believe in Christianity because it’s good for them.

Imagine someone saying, "Why do you believe 2+2=4?" . . . "Oh, because, yunno' . . . it's a personal choice. It works for me and my family. Uhh . . . my family has always believed in 2+2=4, so, yunno' . . . it just works for me."

That's how absurd we Christians sound when we talk about Christianity like it's just some personal preference to be Christian. We talk about it like we're describing why we root for our favorite sports team, not like it's Fact. No one would talk about math like that. And no one should talk about Christianity like that. "Why are you a Christian?" "Because Christianity is true. And I do my best to believe things that are true."

If there is one thing that Christianity cannot be, it cannot be merely a preference. People did not suffer crucifixion, get burned alive, get shunned by all family members, lose social and political positions, and live in fear lest authorities come drag them away during prayer meetings for centuries because they believed that Christianity simply “made them feel good.”

Believing in Santa Claus made me feel good when I was a child. It really did. I thoroughly enjoyed it. And I would never—never in a million years—offer myself to be tortured because of Santa. Or put more simply, I would never claim that the myth of Santa Claus (even though it’s based on an historical figure) is true. Why? Because there is no compelling evidence to believe it is true.

The early Christians and early Church Fathers were so convinced that Jesus was raised from the dead that their entire lives were radically changed. They gave up everything that got in the way of living out that belief. Even when they did not feel like God was present (e.g., if they were killed, like Jesus felt while on the cross), they knew He was present because the gospel was True. Nothing could change the fact that Jesus was raised from the dead; nothing could change the fact that the New Age had begun as manifested in the several, small communities spread throughout the Empire.

What they felt about God while in despair had nothing to do with facts, with history. They were not ashamed of the gospel because they believed it to be true, not because they always felt God’s presence. It was the nature of it being True, and not merely a personal preference, that made them do what they did.

Sometimes I’m tempted, like those Reba McEntire lyrics, to “close my eyes” and simply let “my heart lead the way.” And sometimes, when I do that, I feel very happy and “close to Jesus.” But for most of the time, in the “real world,” those moments cannot be sustained. My feelings come and go. And they are supposed to do that; God designed my feelings that way.

Christianity is either true or false. Jesus and the Apostles never claimed to be spreading some new preference, but a fact. And they were either right or wrong, true or false. And if we Christians think that God has to feel close to us in order for Him to actually be close, then we are trying to manufacture a feeling. And this reduces Christianity and the promises of God’s presence and love to mere feelings. Moreover, like the perfect relativist, it makes Christianity all about me. It says, “For Christianity to be true, I must feel God at this moment.”

My wife is not always in the same room with me. I cannot always “feel” her presence. But, I never doubt her existence. She exists. This is a fact. It is either true or false, regardless of how I feel.

So it is with God. Praise God it is this way. I want a God who is not controlled by how I feel. I need to, and will only, devote my life to something that is actually True, and not merely a personal preference.