For many centuries, people believed that the earth was the center of the universe and that the sun revolved around it. Then here came along a Polish astronomer named Copernicus, who held on to a different theory. He believed that the sun was the center of our solar system, and that the earth and all other planets within the system were revolving around the sun. Almost no one agreed with him. His theory was so unpopular and revolutionary that he was afraid to release it. But shortly before his death in the sixteenth century, he published a book. Very soon his theory was accepted by all competent scientists and eventually by the people. What did it matter that he stood virtually alone? He knew the truth and could afford to wait.
So it always is with the truth. So it had better be with us, with our nation, with our homes, with our church. We must deal with the real issues and keep our minds open to the truth. That is the only way any one of us has any right to exercise authority over the minds and lives of others. A government that lies to its people in order to control them cannot long endure. Parents who refuse to level with their children will very soon forfeit their authority. A religion that is more devoted to self-serving ideas than it is to the truth will, in due time, lose
the hearts and minds of the people.
All valid authority must be rooted in the truth. We are not always certain what that is, but our minds must be seeking it, and our hearts must be willing to accept it.
But we need to remember that truth must be exercised through persuasion and not force. That is what Jesus did. He never tried to force His ideas or His will on anyone. He told His truth, and let it speak for itself. All people were free to accept it or reject it, and they still are. In the final analysis, that is the only way that lasting authority can be exercised.
No government can rule forever by force. The same thing is true in a home or in a school. A limited degree of force is periodically necessary, but that ought not be the primary program. If it is, the breakdown and failure of authority is foreordained.
Parents can impose their will and ideas on their children for a few years. But this must be done in love and with a deep commitment to truth and fairness. Otherwise, the day will come when your children turn their back on your values and walk away.
How much more is this true than in the realm of faith. If love cannot persuade the world of the truth of Jesus, we can forget it, because we have nothing else with which to win them. That is how Jesus has held His grip on the hearts and mind of people across the centuries. His truth cannot be denied, and His cross ought to convince us that He really loves and cares for us.