My niece has reached the age where she can distinguish between telling the truth and a lie. Like most four-year-olds, she has tested the waters as she learns to navigate the trajectory words have on life. This has led to both serious discussions on why it’s important not to lie, and humorous moments as I’ve watched her process those lessons, applying them to her actions and to the actions of others.
Now, when my niece is uncertain about something I say, she will ask me, “Are you true?” I love when she asks this question; not only because it shows she’s learning to think critically and to seek the truth, but because there is a deeper question being asked, one she’s not even conscious of raising.
“Are you true?” is a question that focuses on the character of the person rather than the statement being made. It’s a question about relationship as much as the questioning of a statement. When my niece asks me if I’m true, she not only wants to know if what I just told her is reliable, she wants to know if she can trust me. Am I a person she can depend on? Am I characterized by what is true or what is false? Can she have confidence in my presence?
“Are you true?” is a question we all ask all the time. Each of us is evaluating the people in our lives, wanting to know if they are telling us the truth, but more deeply longing to know we can have confidence in their character. In a world that denies absolute truth in favor of a subjective reality, we are all searching for that person or relationship that we can fully trust. We all want to find someone who is fully reliable and worthy of our unshakable confidence. More than the words they say, we hope to find someone characterized by what is true.
Isn’t it interesting that in Jesus Christ we see someone who not only claimed to speak the truth, but to BE true? When Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life (Jn. 14:6),” he was not only telling us that the statements he makes are trustworthy and reliable. He was claiming that we can trust his character. The words and life of Jesus show that not only is he the Truth, he is true. That relationship of dependence and unshakable confidence we all long for can be a reality we know and experience.
Someday, somehow, my truthfulness and my being true will not line up, and I will disappoint my niece. But hopefully she’ll see that while I may fail, Jesus will not. Hopefully she’ll turn to Jesus and ask, “Are you true?” and will hear him say, “I am.”