FIRST-PERSON: Truth decay

ALEXANDRIA, La. (BP) -- "Have you brushed your teeth?" You've heard that question since you were young.

Sometimes the answer was "Yes"; other times "No." The truth would be somewhere in the middle -- as kids we had lots more important things to do, so 10 strokes back and forth on the front teeth and we'd think we were good to go.

TV commercials and our parents drilled into our minds that we didn't want the dreaded tooth decay. Instead, our parents longed to hear, "Look, Mom, no cavities!" (And then they rewarded us with candy!)

Tooth decay is painful. When the dentist says, "You'll only feel a slight pinch" -- buckle up. They also know it can be painful financially.

Today our society suffers from "truth decay." Our courts require us to place our hands on a Bible and promise "to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help me God," and yet the truth often eludes us in today's legal system, in our legislative bodies and government entities.

"You can't handle the truth!" is an often-quoted line in a popular movie from the 1990s but today the truth is that most people don't want to hear the truth. Educators and scholars lecture that there's no such thing as "absolute truth." "You can't handle the truth" has been replaced with "I don't want to hear the truth" as we place our hands over our ears (and our hearts) and in effect say, "I'm not listening!"

During Jesus' mock trial, Pilot asked Him, "What is truth?" An ad I saw in a major national newspaper/trade publication said in part:

The truth can't be glossed over.

The truth has no agenda.

The truth can't be manufactured.

The truth doesn't take sides.

But the apostle Paul warned Timothy, "... there is going to come a time when people won't listen to the truth but will go around looking for teachers who will tell them just what they want to hear" (2 Timothy 4:3, TLB).

That time has arrived.

Truth decay wreaks havoc in our culture, in our relationships and in our churches. It's piped into our homes and devices through television, the internet and social media.

How do we combat "truth decay"?

The only remedy for "truth decay" is to return to the One who said, "I am the way, the truth and the life." The implication of Jesus' declaration confounds the culture, yet it remains the only hope for the world. This is the unaltered, unfiltered, unapologetic truth. Jesus declared God's words are truth (John 17:17) -- words that need to be applied generously and frequently that will set a person free (John 8:32). Truth should be presented creatively and consistently using current communication platforms. Most importantly, the truth must be delivered with love (Ephesians 4:15).

Our entire country is desperately in need of a "truth infusion." No legislation can stop the cultural decay. Only God's truth can change a heart and correct the course of a nation.

John Kyle is director of communications for the Louisiana Baptist Convention who is coordinating the convention's Here For You multimedia evangelism initiative, online at hereforyou.org, designed to give every person in Louisiana an opportunity to say yes to Jesus. During Super Bowl weekend, an estimated 849,000 people across Louisiana saw a Here for You TV spot two or more times and an additional 300,000 people were engaged via social media.
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