Happy New Year to all. I greet you from my heart. More importantly, I greet you - my beloved readers - with a heavy heart. It is a flawed heart, troubled, fallible, yet tireless in seeking the truth in all my writings here.
For me, every new year is really just another day - no different from a Monday or a Friday, from a weekday or a weekend. It is still a 24-hour day to be filled by us with choices we make and have to live with - in peace or regret.
But the difference is our heart, our resolve, our will to change in the new year, amidst all our failures and successes. The reality is that we live in a world where truth is increasingly fungible, and lies are taking the lead in popularity, plausibility and durability.
It is said that "a lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its trousers on." In other words, a lie or deception travels in light-speed in this digital age, while the truth is a clumsy campaigner trying her utter best to catch the first bus in the morning. And trust me, the bus is always late.
So, this new year, I'm going for the jugular. I am going for the heart. And I take my lead from what a man once said: "I am the way and the truth and the life." And these words were uttered in reply to this: "...we don't know where you are going, so how can we know the way?"
In this postmodern, post-truth and post-faktisch (post-fact) world, many will say that this man is 2000 years too old (or irrelevant). He was living in a world so different from ours today. He didn't have the printing press, the industrial and scientific revolutions, the internet, the digital economy, and the biological and genetic breakthroughs that we have in our most enlightened age.
His world then was one of absolute truth, but our world is now about relative ones (all thanks or misattributed to e=mc2 and G=T). His teachings or philosophies are therefore outmoded and redundant today.
I beg to differ. I beg for them to listen. I beg for all to discern. Jesus came not to transform this world. When Pilate questioned him about ruler-ship, he said his kingdom is not of this world. He never came to be popular, rich or powerful. In other words, he never came to change this world by becoming the world.
His revolution is not to reorder or redesign this world. His revolution however speaks to the heart - that world for him is much bigger than the world the eyes can see. That world is what endures, transforms and impacts. That world is what makes all the difference. The world of the heart is therefore the reality we all confront and overcome everyday.
So, Jesus was relevant yesterday as he is still relevant today - if not more so. The world can change or advance in scope, depth and knowledge, but Jesus came to address the one issue that has not changed since time can remember. That is, the world within. And this is the same man who once said: "I am the way and the truth and the life."
To me, he is definitely on to something, something momentous, because what he said, how he said it, how he lived what he said, and why he said it (and died for what he'd said) are all still relevant today - if not more urgent in our post-truth-and-fact world.
Let me end or start the new year with these three statements - two from formidable believers and another from a highly respected and learned late historian - that speak volume about this crucified Savior.
Here is the first.
"Jesus combines high majesty with the greatest humility, he joins the strongest commitment to justice with astonishing mercy and grace, and he reveals a transcendent self-sufficiency and yet entire trust in and reliance upon his heavenly Father. We are surprised to see tenderness without weakness, boldness without harshness, humility without any uncertainty, indeed, accompanied by a towering confidence. Readers can discover for themselves his unbending convictions but complete approachability, his insistence on truth but always bathed in love, his power without insensitivity, integrity without rigidity, passion without prejudice." (Pastor Tim Keller, "Making Sense of God").
Here is the second statement from the late Will Durant, who was awarded the Pulitzer Prize and the Presidential Medal of Freedom and spent more than fifty years writing his critically acclaimed eleven-volume series, The Story of Civilization.
"If I could live another life, endowed with my present mind and mood, I would not write history or philosophy, but would devote myself to establishing an association of men and women free to have any tolerant theology or no theology at all, but pledged to follow as far as possible the ethics of Christ, including chastity before marriage, fidelity within it, extensive charity, and peaceful opposition to any but the most clearly defensive war. I can imagine what fun the wits of the world could have with this paragraph, and I know how unpopular and precarious my proposed fellowship of semi-saints would be; but I would rather contribute a microscopic mite to improving the conduct of men and statesmen than write the one hundred best books."
Somehow, you can detect a hint of resignation in the above statement - if not irony. But what is undeniable is the ennobled desire above all earthly ambitions to make an enduring difference in the lives of fellow men and women. And Jesus had undeniably done just that. His life and teachings endured through the worst of time to speak to us. Most relevantly, it speaks to us from his heart to our heart.
And here is the third statement to bring us home this new year. It's from CS Lewis.
"Others said, "This is the truth about the universe. This is the way you ought to go." He said, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life." He said, "No man can reach absolute reality except through me. Try to retain your own life, and you will be inevitably ruined. Give yourself away, and you will be saved...Finally, do not be afraid. I have overcome the whole universe."
Now that's bankable truth worth a serious pause, gander and reflection. It is the truth that has beaten a way as exemplified in a life. Have a blessed New Year. Cheerz.