Where is the truth?

Dear members and friends, 

The biggest problem of Israelites in the Bible appears to be “being faithful” to their God, who freed them from slavery in Egypt and protected and guided them through the desert for 40 years. “Being faithful” in the Bible meant to believe in the existence of their God, and continue to worship their God exclusively. Yet, the Israelites failed this simple expectation repeatedly despite the fact that their God continually expressed his existence and presence amongst them. Living about 3,500 years after such stories were written, I often wondered about the root cause of the Israelites’ persistent failure. How was it so hard to believe in such a being whose presence was very apparent and powerful? However, when I read the Bible closely, I learned that God’s spiritual and often direct presence was experienced only by a very small and exclusive number of people. In a way, knowing and believing in such a God was always left as a matter of choice for the Israelites. 

The Hebrew word for “faithfulness” could also be translated as “truth,” meaning authentic and transparent. In the Bible, God teaches us a very simple lesson: “Being truthful to oneself is the key to being faithful.” In other words, believing in something or some being faithfully could only be possible when one’s heart is authentic and transparent. However, our innate challenge of knowing and accepting truth was acknowledged by Confucius who insisted that truth could not be obtained by a mind that is not cultivated. And, according to Confucius, the cultivation should take place by training one’s mind in objectivity over its innate subjectivity. What is encouraging from Confucius is his notion that despite our innate predicament of being subjective, we can cultivate objective perspectives through training. One thing to be clear about is that obtaining objectivity itself is not the final goal of our cultivation. Rather, the goal is obtaining the truth. And obtaining truth means to be able to see oneself clearly and to know one’s own motivations and desires as they appear. 

My brothers and sisters in God, let us take a moment of mediation this week. Let us reflect on our own motivations and desires. Let us bring some light on the reasons why we do things we do.

Blessings, Rev. Junchol Lee