But life is full of multi-layered truth. We tend to think of truth as a bar of gold on a shelf. But truth is in the mountain, and needs to be mined. But mining requires risk, and work, and pain, and loss. But oh when you find those nuggets… or that vein. The Bible is full of such truth. Jesus Himself was a great teacher of truth. Beyond that, He claimed to be ‘the Truth’. (John 14:6) As He taught, people were amazed at what they heard. They had never been exposed to such teaching. Not only was it good, it was powerful. But one of the things that makes truth powerful is that it is deep.
One time Jesus said to His disciples, “You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world.” (John 16:33) This is truth. But it is not just one truth. Neither is it just multiple truths. It is a body of truth.
One truth is, “You will have suffering in this world.” Now frankly, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that out. Anyone… even a non-believer could tell you that this world is messed up, and you will be hurt. Some Christians make this their message. They are simply doom and gloom, preaching about a world of despair. They believe the world has been shaved by a drunken barber, and they think it is their mission to spread the word. And this is true. Frankly, sometimes people run to Jesus thinking that Christians escape the suffering. This is not true, and we need to be reminded that being a disciple of Jesus is not a ‘Get out of suffering free’ card. The enemy has worked very hard to destroy what God has beautifully created. Even believers will experience suffering in this world. But this is only part of the body of truth,
The other truth is really only known by Christians. Jesus didn’t just say that His followers would have suffering in this world. He also said, “I have conquered the world.” This is the hope that corrects the despair. And we can know that as surely as there is suffering, there is relief… there is victory. That is why we can be courageous. Now, some people like to focus on this. They seem to think that because Christ conquered we don’t need to deal with the suffering that is part of a fallen world. But even Jesus suffered. He conquered the world, but He still suffered. Apparently there is something that we need to learn through suffering.
Sandwiched between these two truths is the encouragement to “be courageous.” When we try to cut out a part of the truth we become less than we should be. If there is only suffering, being courageous will be an exercise in futility. If the fact that Jesus conquered suffering means we don’t have to deal with it, our courage would have no value. You may wonder why suffering still exists if Jesus conquered the world… well, because then we would not know this courage.
Today, take the whole body of truth. It will require a little work, but the payday will be worth every shovel-full of effort.
[Bible quotes are from the Holman Christian Standard Bible, unless otherwise noted.]
Find more of David’s work at Heart Of Ministry.