It’s become common lately for people to speak about “their truth.” I consider truth a synonym for reality, so it sounds strange to hear someone say, “This is my truth.” Of course, all of us have different backgrounds and experiences, but it’s dangerous when our subjective views determine what is real for us, regardless of what God or anyone else considers right and true.
What does it mean to describe something as real? Why do we call property “real estate”? My wife and I don’t call our modest house an estate. Why would anyone buy an unreal estate? And where would you get it—from an unrealtor?
A bit of research solves the puzzle. Some say the “real” in real estate comes from the Latin rex (“royal” or “king”) because kings owned all of the land in their kingdoms. However, it’s more likely the expression comes from the Latin res, “things”—an archaic way of referring to land, buildings, or other materials fixed to the land.
The Real Thing
We use a variety of terms to describe reality. Authentic means something is verified, supported by evidence, not fictitious or counterfeit. The Greek authentikos meant“original, primary, first hand,” or “one who does things himself.”
Genuine comes from the Latin genuinus, which meant “native, natural” (like genus, a biological classification of organisms). The Oxford Dictionary suggests an interesting alternative—that genuine comes from genu (“knee”) and is derived from the Roman custom of a father acknowledging his paternity of a newborn child by placing the baby on his knee.
Sincere means “pure, unadulterated.” According to an often-cited legend, this word comes from the Latin compound sine cere, “without wax.” Ancient sculptors would work for years to carve a statue out of marble. Frustrated when cracks appeared in their creations, unscrupulous sculptors would fill the imperfections with wax so the statues looked flawless, but in time, the wax would dry out and flake, and the cracks would reappear. To avoid misleading the public, top quality artwork was certified sine cere, “without wax,” so buyers could be sure no hidden flaws would cheapen the value of their purchase.
True comes from the Old English triewe, which meant “faithful, trustworthy, honest, steady in adhering to promises and friends, characterized by good faith.”
If something is true it conforms to reality, and we don’t define reality, God does. The Greek aletheia (“truth”) appears more than 100 times in the New Testament. Jesus assured his disciples that following him leads to knowing the truth, “and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32). Jesus claimed to personally embody the truth, insisting, “I am the way and the truth and the life” (John 14:6). He prayed, “Your word is truth” (John 17:17). During Jesus’ trial, Pilate asked, “What is truth?” (John 18:38). Ironically, the answer was staring Pilate in the face.
While respecting one another’s unique perspectives, feelings, and opinions, let’s be clear: all truth is God’s truth, and we ignore biblical absolutes at our own risk. His Word is authentic, genuine, and sincere. The gospel of Christ is rooted in historical facts, eyewitness testimony, and reliable accounts written by apostles and prophets who, “though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21). Let’s plant our feet on the solid real estate of God’s Word.
David Faust serves as the Associate Minister at East 91st Street Christian Church in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Lesson study ©2018, Christian Standard Media. Lesson based on The Lookout’s Scope and Sequence ©2018. Scripture quotations are from the New International Version, ©2011, unless otherwise indicated.