I was doing a little bit of reading yesterday and stumbled upon this statement by Arthur Wallis: “Truth is like a portrait, and to exaggerate one feature is to turn the portrait into a caricature of the truth.” I have spent a lot of time thinking about this sentence over the last 24 hours. Truth is of ultimate importance and we need a clear portrait to follow, believe and present. Over the last few weeks I have heard people in different settings talk about “stretching the truth”, “bending the truth”, “avoiding the truth”, even being “creative with the truth”. So, to quote Pilate, “What is truth?”, the portrait not the caricature.
Pilate asked the question and then walked away, not waiting to hear Jesus’ response, I believe, because he wasn’t willing to accept the answer. Jesus had already said in John 14:6 “I am the way, the truth and the life”. He couldn’t be much clearer, Jesus didn’t come to teach us about the truth, He came because He was the truth. He brought it to us, and became it among us. He is not merely the keeper, purveyor or dispenser of truth, He is the actual incarnation of it. Apart from Jesus there is no truth.
In our weakness, maybe it’s more our fallen state than weakness, we speak of and think of the truth as having levels, as having ins and outs, colors or degrees. In his book, Experiencing God, Henry Blackaby answers these thoughts with this simple assertion, “Truth is a person.” If he is right then truth is absolute, truth is personal, truth is unwavering and truth is divine. If truth is divine then we, the mortals, can not alter it, mold it for our liking or change it for our benefit. Truth endures, remains and overcomes. Jesus said “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” Freedom can’t come from man or even from mans inventions, freedom can only come from the Creator. Truth is not in our hands, we are actually in the hands of truth. As Colossians says of Jesus, “All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things are held together.”
I want to finish by going back to the quote that launched me on this thought process. If truth is a portrait then a caricature is what we come up with when we try to shape truth to fit our liking, our personality, our purposed calling or our set belief system. Have you ever had your caricature done? The artist takes a look, gets a good idea of your general image and then chooses, according to his liking the part that he wants to emphasize and those parts that he decides are secondary. The rendering doesn’t have to be accurate, there is no need to be careful of details because the image is not even meant to give detail, just an exaggerated, usually comical image. Haven’t we at times become caricature artists of the truth, of the gospel? Are we not all guilty of taking what we like and putting it out in front, and those things that are hard, convicting or personally too painful we allow to just fall in line later, smaller? Today I think we need to check the truth. We need to go back and read everything that Jesus said and carefully pay attention to everything that Jesus did. If we want the truth, we must want Jesus. If we are to carry the truth, we must carry Jesus. Remember, it is not our understanding of truth, our presentation of truth, our expert handling of truth that sets men free, it is the truth itself. Jesus sets us free, don’t be afraid of Him, don’t be ashamed of Him and don’t take liberties with Him. Let the truth speak, He will not disappoint or fall short, He will finish the work that He has started. Let’s make a vow, no more caricatures, no more man made, man picked truths. The thoughts of man bring bondage, but the knowledge of Christ, well, He said it Himself, “The truth shall make you free.”