As the Apostle Paul writes to Timothy about various church related issues, he refers to the church as “the pillar and support of the truth.” There are many passages which provide insight into the nature of “church,” this being one of great importance. It is my conviction that many less important activities are defining the role and activity of church in our contemporary setting. In fact, truth is quite low on the agenda of most “church-going” people and, unfortunately, many leaders within the body of Christ have allowed this lack of interest to determine the general approach taken toward building large, “successful” churches.
Truth is central to God’s kingdom, God’s design for human beings / relationships and for the role of the church in society. A very important task entrusted to the Christian community is maintaining and dispensing truth. This is a very complex assignment which requires a right internal resolve (humility and love), a right use of mental capacities (study, research, thought, reflection, rationality) and proper, practical application (behaviour, conduct).
Right Internal Resolve
One must have a proper motive as a handler of truth. Our goal is to please and honour God supremely. The use of truth in fulfilling this goal is foundational. One cannot know what pleases God or how to please Him if one does not know such truth. It appears as though many have replaced this ultimate goal with one focused on pleasing people in order to build little earthly kingdoms in honor of our own achievements (this did not work out well for those in Babel). Truth suffers when such an approach dominates. Flowing from the supreme purpose of pleasing God, we employ truth as a means of instructing human beings in living according to God’s design for all areas of life. This is essential to a proper understanding of love.
God created human beings with minds designed after His mind. Having the same kind of mental function, we recognize that we do not have the same degree of mental capacity. Our task is to learn (a mental function) how to use our minds in a way that pleases and honors God and His design for human intellect; to love God with all our mind. This is not a “whatever-I-gain-by-osmosis-and-no-effort” approach. This requires engaging in a process of purposefully exposing ourselves to significant amounts of information, analysing and reasoning through such information, logically drawing rational conclusions based upon such information and adding to our understanding. Having insinuated that this is a rational, logical process, I must add that there is a place for an empirical, experiential dimension to this process as well as a need for revelation from sources that transcend our reasoning and experience (namely God). Albeit, one must work, labour and make an effort to assimilate truth. Such truth becomes essential for the church being able to fulfil its role in society of being the guardian, manager and dispenser of an accurate representation of God’s will.
Consider the fact that Jesus stated, “…the man who hears the word and understands it…bears fruit…” (Mt.13:23) and the Apostle Paul declared, “…be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is…” (Ro.12:2).
Truth must be applied – it is not simply something we hold in our mind as an end in itself. Possessing information (vast or accurate) is not the end to which we strive. It is, however, a necessary part of the process. Prior to referring to the church as the pillar and support of the truth, Paul stated, “…the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith…” (1Ti.1:5). This is a very practical concept – it relates to choices we make, how we act, what we do, how we treat others and why we treat them as we do. This is the production of fruit Jesus referred to that is related to understanding. This is why Jesus stated, “…everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man…” (Mt.7:24). Wisdom, though having significant mental ties, is most powerfully manifest in action, conduct and behaviour.
Sadly, it seems that those filling teaching roles in the body of Christ at large have lost sight of the importance of truth in advancing the kingdom of God, defining proper human behaviour and understanding the nature of moral agency, sin and righteousness. It is time the church grasps a vision of the importance of truth in fulfilling its commission to “bind” and “loose” (Mt.16:19, 18:18) the moral behaviour of human beings and cultures. After all, Jesus did not say, “You will have fun and the fun will make you free.”