Saturday, 15 October 2011


Last night I was out with some friends in Leeds City Centre. I often go out on Fridays for 1 or 2 quick drinks after work and then head home and leave the others to it, but on this occasion I stayed out a little later.

The city centre seemed a lot quieter than on previous occasions when I'd been out, and on mentioning this I discovered it had been like this for the last few weeks - the general feeling was that the recession was finally starting to bite. As we sat in Jake's Bar on Call Lane, listening to "Tell me Lies" by Fleetwood Mac, it made me think about the recession versus the "good times" as many would probably think of them. I thought about traders living the high life as markets boomed, celebrating their success, oblivious to the pain that would inevitably follow from their reckless behaviour. I thought about how, even when things are going bad, as much as possible we still want to party - to have fun - and to pretend to ourselves that it isn't really happening.

On my way home later (even in my slightly inebriated state!) I was thinking about truth versus the lies we often tell ourselves because the truth is scary and the lies are more comforting. I thought of that great line in "A Few Good Men", where Jack Nicholson roars out, "You can't handle the truth!!" I also thought of those famous words of Jesus, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free!"

Often we don't want the truth because the truth seems unpleasant or too big to face. A friend of mine who doesn't believe in God (and who shall remain nameless) recently confessed to me that for many years he struggled with a fear of death as he believed (and still does believe) that death is the end - there is nothing after that and this ultimately renders life pointless. This is the kind of "truth" that most people don't want to face - or at least they don't want to think about too often! If this is the nature of ultimate truth, then our constructed fantasies and self-delusions would certainly seem like a much better place to live!

But what if the ultimate truth was actually good? What if - as Christians believe - there is a God who loves and cares about us? What if - in spite of all the pain and suffering in the world - there is a plan, and in some not entirely fathomable way, it is all going to work out well in the end? Many people claim to have encountered this truth - and many others denounce them as nutters or deluded for saying so!

But if the ultimate truth is good, then evil is the anomaly and can eventually be conquered. If the ultimate truth is good, then lesser truths - whether good or evil - can be faced head on. We can face the terrible reality of this situation, or that injustice, knowing that evil doesn't get the last word. We can be courageous in fighting injustice, whether we succeed or fail in the short term, knowing that evil is short-lived and that one day all our efforts will finally pay off.

If the ultimate truth is good, and you can know this truth, then as Jesus says, the truth will set you free!

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