By Dick Barrett
So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”— John 8:31-32 (ESV)
Jesus said to his early disciples, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” We live in a world of half-truths. The trouble with half-truths is that we never get to know the full truth, and we think that the answers to many of our problems, especially the big ones, are easy to find.
The events of the past six months in our nation and in the world, especially the COVID-19 pandemic, have caused me to spend a lot of time in prayer and reflection. Four things come to the forefront for me. They are not unique to me or meant to be limited, but these four stand out:
- The reality of death here on earth
The death toll so far from COVID-19 is more than 194,000 in the United States and 925,000 worldwide. At the end of 2020, will the total number of deaths be significantly different than in recent years? I don’t know. But the number of deaths from COVID-19 has brought to the forefront the reality of death here on earth. The full truth is that the mortality rate for people here on earth has not changed — it is still 100 percent.
- Individual and systemic racism
African American and Hispanic individuals have been affected by COVID-19 at disproportionate rates in the United States. That reality, along with the continued deaths of African Americans in the United States due to gun violence, and our struggle with immigration, have all highlighted the full truth that both individual and systemic racism exist in our country, as well as in the rest of the world.
- The changing church
While there was much evidence to indicate that the church in America was changing before COVID-19, especially in its relevance to our culture, this time of pandemic over the past six months has caused the church to change much faster. All signs point to the full truth that when churches are able to fully gather again for worship inside, many, if not most, will look quite different.
- Misplaced hope
Many people today seem to be putting their hope in things that do not have any lasting or significant eternal value — whether it be a specific political party, platform or candidate; a COVID-19 vaccine; guns for personal protection; a border wall; alcohol or drugs; a church that looks like it did 10, 20, or 50 years ago; and on and on. The apostle Paul tells us that if in Christ we have hope in this life only, or any of the things in this life, then we really have no hope at all (1 Cor. 15:19).
The full truth is Jesus is our only hope. If we truly abide in Jesus, then we are his disciples, and he will set us free. My prayer is that we will stop trying to find half-truths, easy answers, hopes that cannot fulfill, and we will look to the only one who offers full truth and everlasting hope.
In Christ Alone