When I first moved back to my home town seven years ago, I encountered a man in his mid-twenties sitting outside a local café. His clothes were a little unkempt, but nothing out of the ordinary for a young bachelor. He happily lounged in his chair, sipping his iced drink; and I thought there was something different about him, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. All I knew was that he looked idle, like he had absolutely no agenda, no plans, no responsibility – nothing linking his thoughts to our external world. He simply took in and enjoyed the unfolding life around him.
I wondered if he might be homeless, but I quickly debunked the idea. He gave me a nod and a smile, and he seemed completely coherent in his interactions. He never asked me for money, and he didn’t have the weathered worn appearance of someone living on the streets.
I’ve seen this man many times through the years – small glimpses of his morphing existence. A year ago, he came up to me outside a nearby grocery store. The jeans and t-shirt that once looked unkempt were now dirty and worn. He had lost much weight on his already lean frame. His fingernails were thick with grime and desperation had chiseled away his once serene expression.
He held out his hand to me and mumbled something about money. My heart instantly collapsed in disbelief, and I quickly opened my wallet to grab whatever I could find. I couldn’t move as I watched him walk away. The idle man now lost.
Last week I saw him. He was walking along the feeder road of our highway as I drove to my destination. His skin was densely tanned, and his threadbare clothes drooped off his body. He was motioning with his hands and talking to himself. He wandered the streets in the labyrinth of his mind–no place in society, no purpose in God.
I don’t know what experiences, decisions or actions have caused that man’s feet to walk the path he has chosen. I feel nothing but compassion for him, and wonder how God’s heart ache’s for his beloved son. But I fear that society has fooled many people into believing that they are rooted in life and connected to purpose, but in reality they are wanderers, disconnected from absolute Truth, which is unchanging and eternal.
We live in the physical realm of our third dimension; however, our existence is merely a small glimpse of a reality tucked away into a greater, everlasting Kingdom. Our external world was given to us to teach us, prepare us and establish us in the spiritual Kingdom, but many people wander this earth in complete ignorance or denial of a spiritual reality. They have fastened themselves in the physical aspect of creation but stay blind to the Creator and His eternal Kingdom.
What is worse, however, is that there are many Christians saved by grace but completely lost to their purpose in Christ. The origin of their straying is the spirit of relativism, and we have all been its victim. Relativism suggests that there is no absolute truth (which is already a contradiction because making a statement as truth about having no truth is incongruent). But the standard of relativism is not what trips us up. What causes us to stumble are the seeds of relativism hidden in our self-centered flesh, ego and pride.
The formula is simple: when relativism holds sway long enough, everyone begins to do what is right in his own eyes without regard for submission of truth. In this atmosphere, a society begins to break down. Virtually every structure in a free society depends on a measure of integrity—that is, submission to the truth. When the chaos of relativism reaches a certain point, the people will welcome any ruler who can bring some semblance of order and security. – John Piper, Think
God is truth (Deut 32.4), who expressed His truth in Jesus (John 14.6), in the Bible (John 17.17) and in the Holy Spirit (John 16.12-15). When we know His Truth, we are free from the endless work of our own pride (John 8.32). Our pride causes us to be submitted to relativism. We believe in God, but our opinions, actions and words change to protect our desires, our egos, our agendas, our comforts, our goals, our security and our glory. Our personal standard of truth becomes a baton that moves to the rhythm of our demands. We bear the racket of our growing cacophony for a while, until we finally welcome any ruler—alcohol, pleasure, drugs, money, worry, security, lust, intellect, ignorance, approval, beauty—that drowns out the noise: a noise caused by our selfish lifestyle, completely disconnected from God and His Truth.
I’ve seen this wandering spirit in my own life. The changing levels of self-centered truth moving to suit my situation, my desires, my plans; until God finally confronted me with contradicting discord in my thoughts, words and actions. I’ve learned not to trust the heat of my own heart, until I have sought God’s Truth (Proverbs 19.3). I’ve also realized what God means about the absolute necessity of humility, as demonstrated when Jesus humbled Himself to give us freedom from our sins, including the idol of me-focused relativism (Phil 2.5-8 NLT).
When I stay subservient to real, lasting Truth, I will be humbled because I am a sinner, greased in grace, clinging to a perfect God; and I will endure the beautiful but painful metamorphosis of faith.
When Truth and I collide, I will be the one changing. I will be uncomfortable. I will struggle. I will be humbled. And I will be the one moving. But I will move in deeper wisdom and understanding because Truth is chiseling away at my pride and drawing me closer to God’s eternal reality.
I don’t want to be a wanderer in relativism. I want to be planted in Truth eternal. I don’t want my words to mumble foolishness based on my sporadic, self-centered understanding. I want to speak coherent, unchanging words of Truth–no matter who is listening, no matter what the world thinks, no matter how I might look, no matter who gets offended, no matter the consequences—I will find my center in God and His expression of love to me through Jesus, the Bible and the Holy Spirit. I am freed from worry because my lips know only one language – the tongue of TRUTH!
While the world wanders, I will remain in Christ.
“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life’” (John 8.12 NIV).