February 12, 2014
The 2014 “Connecting the Dots” Conference in Athens is over and I haven’t even blogged about it! So, now that I have a few minutes, I thought I’d reflect and share a few thoughts.
The whole idea behind Global Next’s international conferences is to build leaders who understand the world in context. And context has never been more needed. Throughout our time in Athens, Corinth and Delphi we kept going back to the unshakable principle that truth is knowable and that truth exists outside of ourselves.
So when viewing the 2500 year old Parthenon atop the Acropolis, or talking about the Apostle Paul’s work in Corinth or discussing how the ancient world would flock to Delphi to hear what their futures held, we have to consider the fact that throughout all time, truth existed. My final thoughts from our conference are these – there are three core issues to wrestle with about truth – and these impact everything you do or don’t do with your life:
1. Your source of truth. Is it the Bible? the Quran? The Torah? The Bhagavad-Gita? Something else? Your own interpretation of life? As a Christian, I have already dealt with what I believe is the source of truth – and I believe that to be the Bible. Between fulfilled prophecies, global influence and the clear theme of redemption that runs through its 66 books and 40 authors, I have sufficient faith in its message. Others will disagree, but we are all responsible for our beliefs and how we choose to allow them to shape our lives.
2. Your interpretation of truth: This is the part that creates the most tension as culture shifts. As our conference participants interviewed residents of Athens, we found that traditional values and traditional interpretations of morality have definitely shifted. Few seem to struggle over issues such as abortion, gay marriage or the legalization of certain drugs. Live and let live is a consistent theme.
And yet, at the other end of the spectrum, recent revolutions in the Middle East have showcased what happens when truth is interpreted in an extreme way. Jesus predicted it in John 16: 2, “Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God.”
Interpretation is crucial to understanding truth and applying it to life. Finding accuracy and balance in interpretation is a life-long pursuit. Do I believe that absolute moral truth exists? Yes – to the extent that I can know it. And interpreting truth requires study, humility and the desire to be objective. Truth never changes, but my understanding of it might.
3. How you live out truth: A few days ago, during an irritatingly long layover in Istanbul, I had a conversation with a young man who, for whatever reason, shared the personal and disappointing details of his life’s choices. Knowing what part of the world I was in, I asked him is he was a Muslim. He quickly said yes – and I asked him how on earth he could reconcile his behavior with what his faith taught. Because none of his life choices were constant with the beliefs of any Muslim I knew.
It appeared to be the first time someone actually stated out loud to him the complete disconnect he was experiencing between what he believed with how he lived. No wonder he expressed so much unhappiness and sadness about his life. Choosing your own truth always robs you of joy. And it’s a lot of work – you have to spend a lot of time justifying it and rationalizing or hiding it.
Saying you believe one thing and yet living out another thing isn’t a “Muslim” problem. It’s a “people and truth” problem. We are living in a time when people create their own truth and rationalize their own behavior. We have become our own gods in our own mind.
So, at the end of the day, here’s my challenge: Truth is knowable – you’d better sort it out, decide what you believe and live it. And if you decide not to – at least be honest about it. And then you can sort out what God thinks about that in eternity. I’m sure you’ll have plenty of time.