By Mic Thurber — One of the most often quoted questions from Scripture came from pagan lips: “What is truth?” Pilate really wanted to know, but when confronted with the truth as embodied in Jesus as He stood before him, he wasn’t willing to let truth change him.

As Seventh-day Adventists, we highly value truth. We even speak of those who join our fellowship as those “who come into the truth.” And if someone asks a long-time church member how long they’ve belonged, they might say some- thing like: “I’ve been in the truth for 45 years…”

We esteem truth because, well, we want to be right—right about important things. But I wonder sometimes if our emphasis on “the truth” makes us forget what Jesus said about Himself: “I am the way, the truth, and the life.”

After all, we don’t believe in righteousness by information— we believe in righteousness through faith in Jesus and His marvelous grace.

Truth’s best advantage comes in helping us understand our great God and His plan for our lives. It is not a tool for us to wield on someone who has less truth than we might have. It’s not to be used to show superiority, or draw battle lines, but to draw us ever closer to the heart of a great God that invites us to get to know Him.

I’ve been thinking about a way to describe how careful we need to be in handling truth, both within our fellowship and when we interface with people not of our belief system.

In western North Carolina near where I went to academy is a mountain after which our school was named. Mt Pisgah could be seen from various spots on campus. It could also be seen for miles around in virtually every direction in that part of the state.

The thing that struck me is this: though the mountain was always the same, its shape and profile varied—sometimes quite a bit—depending on the vantage point of the viewer.

So, if you tried to explain what it looked like to someone from a given spot, the description would only match the mountain if the two of you were standing at the same spot. It would not match the view of another person just a few miles down the road. Same mountain. Different views. It depends on the ground upon which the viewer stands.

Over my life and ministry, I’ve noticed that while truth never changed, my perspective on it would often change and grow according to where I was at the time. Some things that I was once very sure about would take on different shades of meaning once I reached other places in my life or spiritual journey. Sort of like driving on a road for miles with Mt. Pisgah in view. Same truth. Different views. It depended on where I was standing at the time.

That’s one very important reason why we need to be more respectful of truth than we sometimes are.

Truth is much bigger than we are. And we should be loath to pronounce that we have, hold, and know the full truth. We need to be willing to admit that we have more to learn. And we should allow for the reality that each of us are in different places in our spiritual journey. So, things could well look different to each of us depending on where we are at any given moment.

Perhaps it’s less important to “win” in an argument over truth than it is to encourage one another on our journey toward the Kingdom. This allows the truth we do see at any given moment to spur us on toward Jesus. That might help us answer a question Pilate didn’t ask but perhaps should have: “What is truth for?”

–Mic Thurber is the RMC president. Email him at: [email protected]