When the kids were growing up, we had a Friday night tradition of getting pizza and renting a movie. This was back in the VHS days, and stopping at First Choice Video was part of our weekend routine.
My hat’s off to Jennifer Woodland (thank you Jen), for the many years she diligently served our community in making movie entertainment available at her video store.
Get this: for all the years we watched videos on family night, never did I know that Robyn, my wife, didn’t really like movies. She wasn’t being untruthful about it; I just never asked. I guess I assumed she liked them. And some of you know what a person becomes when they “assume”. That be me.
I do enjoy movies, but can never recall all the blow-by-blow details of the plot. I can summarize the theme perhaps, but my mind doesn’t record the minutia, like many others mentally file away for future trivia games. But I do recollect iconic lines; famous movie quotes reused as proverbs in future conversations.
For instance, “Life is like a box of chocolates”, was Tom Hanks in “Forrest Gump”, reflecting on the random nature of life. Hearing the shout, “Freedom!”, conjures Mel Gibson’s passionate, self-sacrificial cry in “Braveheart”. “I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse”, was Marlon Brando from “The Godfather”; and “There’s no place like home”, was Judy Garland in “The Wizard of Oz”.
There’s another classic line that immediately pops to mind whenever I hear the word “truth”. From the movie “A Few Good Men”, starring Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson, the scene is at a military trial near the end of that film. Lieutenant Tom Cruise, a military attorney, is interrogating the colonel, Jack Nicholson, under oath.
Like many dramatic court scenes, the prosecutor manages to push the witness’s buttons, who becomes unglued, finally spitting out full admission of the truth.
In this one, Cruise angrily assails Nicholson, above objections, demanding of the colonel, “I want the truth!”. To which Nicholson spites the prosecutor’s arrogance, and loathingly retorts, “you can’t handle the truth!”. This iconic line, “you can’t handle the truth”, is ranked number 29 of the top 100 movie quotes of all time.
How about you? Can you handle the truth?
We live in a nation, and at a time, where truth has become relative. Our kids are taught that truth is not universal, but subjective. What works for you is true for you, and what works for me is true for me. We’ve been sold a bill of goods, saying there’s no longer any comprehensive, trustworthy, absolute truth (to which I must ask, is that absolutely true?).
Truth is foundational to maintaining a sense of equilibrium in a challenging, chaotic existence. Unfortunately, we no longer have this plumb line to help navigate our lives. Society’s total disregard of a standard truth has led to rampant discord, disharmony and disrespect.
So, what is the truth? Let me answer that.
At our disposal in America is a compass that holds true, called the Bible. The Bible tells a story of love, God’s love, a genuine truth that perseveres regardless of opinion or perspective. In the 66 books, written by 40 authors, varying in status from King to Fisherman, all the writings relay the same collective theme of God’s loving and caring for mankind.
Jesus Christ came as mankind’s mediator, conveying God’s plea for reconciliation. The Bible documents the plea, and communicates that Jesus was the definitive deliverer of it. In fact, Jesus describes himself as “the way, the truth, and the life”, saying, and showing, that reconciliation with God comes “through me” (John 14:6).
I like to put it his way: Jesus is the truth, and the Bible conveys the truth about the truth.
Everyone has a unique journey leading to their knowing Jesus. We each have our own story, our personal testimony, which is individually noteworthy. Though there are many ways to Jesus, He’s the sole gate leading beyond it, to eternal life with God in Heaven. I know that sounds narrow, but such is the path described (Matthew 7:14).
Truth isn’t easy, nor is it always popular. Many times, it’s swimming upstream; pushing against the progressive bias prevalent in media, higher education, and society in general. Ironically though, it’s while pushing against these constrictions that a greater sense of freedom is realized.
I suppose that’s what Jesus meant in saying, (John 8:32), “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
Here’s praying you know the truth. I think you can handle it.
Dave Hinman is Pastor Emeritus at Dove Church Wilmington. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org .
This weekly column is provided to the News Journal on a monthly rotation basis by members of the Wilmington Area Ministerial Association.