I think we can all agree that today (15th June) was a bad day for the Prime Minister, for not only did the EU restart its legal proceedings against the government plans to unilaterally scrap parts of the Northern Ireland Protocol, but also a fiercely heated debate took place over ‘who understood what’ at the time of signing the Brexit deal and how it should be practically interpreted – with the European Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic effectively accusing the British government of lying to the general public. Secondly, Lord Geidt resigned from his position as Boris Johnson’s independent ethics advisor stating that there was a legitimate question as to whether the Prime Minister broke the ministerial rules over Partygate. Once again, the whole issue of ‘who knew what’ and who was lying came to the fore.
The problem is that we live today in a postmodern world where it is fashionable to believe that there is no such thing as absolute truth; all truth is said to be relative, depending upon your own particular point of view, which in the realm of politics (and much of society at large) tends to mean that ‘the truth’ becomes whatever suits me and is the most convenient and practically expedient. In fact, in recent years, the most expedient thing has often been to deny the truth completely. We saw this in Donald Trump’s use of the term ‘Fake News’ to dismiss anything that he didn’t agree with, and his false accusation that the US Presidential election result was rigged, which in recent days even close family members and political advisors have dismissed as nonsense. Sadly, we have seen the most serious and blatant denial of truth coming from Russia, as President Putin conducts his ‘special military operation’ within Ukraine, which most observers would have no hesitation in calling a war, which has disastrous consequences for us all.
The problem with all this political spin, ‘fake news’ and propaganda is that it erodes trust as people lose faith in their political leaders and become disillusioned and suspicious instead. What can we believe and where can truth be found?
One’s own perspective of the world is greatly determined by one’s values and what one believes, which is why for many, Christianity offers a bedrock of security in a sea of change and relativity, for in the person of Jesus, we see a man who as the ‘Son of God’ not only had a great love and compassion for the world, but also kept his promises, living a life full of integrity and truth, backing up his words with action. Jesus had described himself as ‘the way, the truth and the life’ (John 14.6), offering his disciples not only a way to his Father in heaven but ‘life in all it’s fullness’ (John 10.10) and a ‘truth that will set you free’ (John 8.32). Despite the fact that the people were living in difficult and uncertain times, because he spoke with such authority and lived with such integrity, people were willing to embrace his words ‘do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, trust also in me’ (John 14.1), and many people did trust Jesus because not only were his words trustworthy and true, but also so were his actions, as ultimately demonstrated by his life, death and resurrection.
As much as I would like everyone to enjoy a firm confidence in Christ, I’m also certain that we need to step back from a world where ‘all things are relative’ but have the confidence of one’s own convictions, for paraphrasing a comment made by Jeff Myers, a Christian commentator – ‘If something is true, then it is true whether we admit it, like it or not! May we and all our politicians live in the light of such certainty, and within it foster a high regard and appreciation for the truth.
31 Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8.31-32