3541348This week I was reminded afresh that the search for truth comes at a very high price.

In Malaysia, a leading academic resigned after his work was considered “rubbish” by a high government official and his own think tank publicly distanced itself from his findings.

“The research director of the Asli report which concluded that bumiputra (ethnic Malays as well as other indigenous ethnic groups) corporate equity ownership was much higher than what government statistics showed has resigned after the think tank distanced itself from the findings.

‘It is the fundamental right of the Malaysian public to question all government statistics and policies, more so when these are not transparent or defensible,'” said Lim, a former United Nations regional adviser and World Bank senior political scientist, and the recipient of many international academic awards.”[Jacqueline Ann Surin, Pauline Puah, B.Suresh Ram and Maria J. Dass, Sun2Surf, Oct 11, 2006]

Much further from our shores we read of the murder of a Russian journalist.

“A Russian investigative journalist was about to publish a story about torture and abductions in Chechnya when she was shot to death on Saturday in Moscow, her editor said Sunday. Anna Politkovskaya, 48, was an outspoken critic of Russia’s policies in Chechnya, and had documented human rights abuses by the Russian military against Chechen civilians. She also wrote a book criticizing President Vladimir Putin’s campaign in Chechnya.

Vitaly Yerushensky, deputy editor of the hard-hitting Novaya Gazeta newspaper where Politkovskaya worked, told Ekho Moskvy radio that the journalist had collected witness accounts and photos of tortured bodies for an article due to be published on Monday. ‘We never got the article, but she had evidence about these (abducted) people and there were photographs,’ Yerushensky said.” [News Staff, CTV News Oct 8, 2006]

The battle for truth is costly.Followers of Christ should have no doubts that they are in the forefront of this war. They should also be clear as to which side they are on.

“For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible-and everything that is illuminated becomes a light.” [Ephesians 5: 8-13 TNIV]

The Christian commitment to truth is a commitment to life. In the garden, God told humankind the truth. Eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and you will die (Genesis 2:15-17).The Serpent told humankind a lie. If you eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you will not die. Instead you will be like gods. In choosing to embrace falsehood rather than the truth, humankind chose death (Genesis 3:1-19). Truth and life are intertwined.

Nothing better illustrates this than evangelism. Evangelism is one form of truth telling. In evangelism we share the truth that all have sinned and have fallen short of God’s glory. In evangelism we also share the joyful truth of the gospel, that God came in the person of Jesus Christ to die for our sins and that He now freely offers life to all who will receive it. Evangelism is bad news first before it is good news. But it is truth telling.

In a fallen world, all truth is in some ways bad news before it is good news. We need to know the truth of our situation before we can act on it. We must know our need before we seek a cure. But many do not want to hear the bad news that precedes any chance for good news. Many cannot bear to face their true selves or the truth of a situation. “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.” (John 3:19)

Indeed some kill to suppress the truth. The truth was that King Herod was not the true monarch of Israel. Jesus was the true Messiah and He was coming to His own. Herod could not face this truth and so he murdered.

“When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi.” (Matthew 2:16 TNIV)

We should not be surprised that a fallen world fights and kills to hide from the light of truth. We must not be naive about the cost of the fight for truth.

However we can also draw comfort from Jesus’s victory on the cross. Jesus’s death and resurrection means many things. It was also the ultimate victory of truth over falsehood. Because of the Cross, the final victory of truth over lies is assured. So while the battles for truth this side of eschaton may ebb and flow, we know already how this war ends. “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” [John 1:5 TNIV]

Therefore we gird our loins and dig in for a long war. Therefore we seek the succor of the triumphant Lord of truth when the going gets tough. Therefore we do not give in to the temptation to fight the battle for truth with the weapons of evil. We remember that we are to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15).

But speak the truth we must. Whether people listen or not. As God commissioned Ezekiel, He commissions us:

“But the house of Israel is not willing to listen to you because they are not willing to listen to me, for the whole house of Israel is hardened and obstinate. But I will make you as unyielding and hardened as they are. I will make your forehead like the hardest stone, harder than flint. Do not be afraid of them or terrified by them, though they are a rebellious house.’ ” [Ezekiel 3:7-8 TNIV]

Lord, in these dark days may your people be found faithful, shining as truth and for truth in the church and in the world. Help us Lord. Give us courage.Make our foreheads like the hardest stone.

Your brother,
Soo-Inn Tan