Certainty or truth. Choose one. You cannot have both.
These might seem like rather provocative statements but their purpose is to show the significant distinction between certainty and truth.
There are many things we may be certain of. We may be certain of the facts of a situation. We may have moral and ethical principles were are absolutely persuaded of. Yet truth is so much more than facts or the principles we are comfortable to live by.
The infinite beauty and complexity of relationship, the unfolding meaning of existence, the pure givenness of life … this is where truth is glimpsed at. We experience the beauty of truth, not in fully grasping or possessing it, but by participating in it. It grasps us, seduces us, disrupts our indifference and draws us to what is worth pursuing.
And so the experience of truth is more like falling in love, than the sober calculation of coming to an absolute persuasion. The truth of Christ Jesus should astonish us, bewilder us, de-centre us, even confuse us out of our stable stagnant certainties.
The experience of certainty cannot be described in the same way. There is a measure of control, of definite boundaries and stability in certainty. And so the juxtaposition of certainty over against truth becomes clear. The truth of beauty defies our borders and categories, it never submits to our control or our understanding… but rather gives itself freely.
Lets make this more practical:
The deepest encounters I’ve had with God/truth, occurred at the point of my deepest doubt… which is also the point of my deepest faith. It is here where my concepts of God were undone (divine doubt) and a reality larger than my certainties unveiled itself, that I found myself enveloped and overwhelmed with a truth that does not fit into my mind… but a truth that continuously expands my mind by drawing me into its own infinity. This is not an experience of finding myself, but rather one of losing myself.
The lightning moment that stirred faith in the heart of Paul, was the exact same moment in which he doubted that the god of violence in whose name he persecuted the church, is truly God. The depth of faith is directly related to the depth of doubt.
To assume that this moment of encounter is a once-off, isolated event… after which we continue in our self-assured rightness, is to miss the best part of this romance. Oh to fall in love again and again with the beauty of truth. To allow myself to be astonished… lost in adoration. I will give up my certainties over and over again to stumble so.
(We are currently working on a guided meditation to assist others in this experience)
Truth vs true statements.
Mary-Anne and I just spent two days on an isolated small island on a lake in Canada. One of the evenings had a sunset that lit the sky on fire. It was breathtaking. I can say with confidence that it was beautiful. And if you saw it, I expect you would agree that my statement is true. Yet no matter how beautiful this sunset was, it did not capture all that beauty is. And although this statement might be true, it is far less that the truth of beauty… or the beauty of truth.
No greater testament to the living and dynamic nature of truth can be found than in the event of incarnation. Language was not an adequate medium. God communicates Himself in becoming flesh… not text, not self-assured statements, but the frailty and humility of entering into existence with all its complexities.
Never allow yourself to be robbed from the wonder of this astonishing truth. Never trade this ongoing living encounter for stale and stagnant statements.
The adventure of life should leave you bewildered and astonished.