It seems that a lot of people have recently got into trouble for apparently telling the truth. Boris Johnson, who in the past has been accused of “outright lies”, spoke what many believe is truth about Middle East conflicts, only to be publicly dressed down by Downing Street for doing so. The accountants Deloittes suggested that the government had no Brexit plan, a view widely expressed as accurate in the press, and were roundly reproached for doing so, resulting in the firm's loss of millions of pounds of government contracts. Many are speaking about our post-truth culture - which is another way of saying that we have come to view lying as acceptable behaviour.
The two prominent men, in the headlines accused lying this last year, are president-elect Trump and Russian president Vladimir Putin. Trump has allegedly lied about numerous issues including: voting regularities, Barack Obama’s background, and US crime statistics (see this New York Times article). And yet he has been implacable in his response. Putin’s lies about Crimea and Russian military involvement in Ukraine are now the stuff of legend. Yet his popularity in Russia remains astonishingly high (Putin's approval rating was 86% in November 2016 – a statistic that western politicians can only dream of).
At Christmas we reflect on why Jesus came into our world. Jesus himself declared to Pontius Pilate: “the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth”. Pilate, unprepared to accept Jesus’ claim, famously retorted: “What is truth?” (John 18:37), unaware that the man standing before him was, and is, the very embodiment of truth. If Pontius Pilate was confused back then, how much more are we now, with our blurred lines of truth and fiction? Everyone is encouraged to discover their own version of truth, a subjective truth that is unique to the individual. In stark contrast to these shifting sands, Jesus comes to us with words of such enduring fidelity that they will never pass away.
Increasingly the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ as objective reality is counter-cultural, as much of the world seems to want to side with Pontius Pilate. At the heart of our Go and Grow vision is to be a beacon for truth to a world drowning in falsehoods and contradictions.