Some time ago I was assisting a young Pastor reestablish himself with his congregation and community. Unfortunately, the young Pastor was not adequately prepared to fully receive and operate in the arena of honesty and truth with himself or anyone else. Sadly I soon realized the age old saying that “Honesty is the best policy” is spoken more often than practiced, and when practiced, it often brings about negative reactions from those around. The one character trait many people claim to desire the most is honesty, but all too often, when a person is honest many people tend to either react negatively towards them, believing something is not right, that the person has ulterior motives, or simple don’t know how to handle it at all. But why? Perhaps honesty does not align with what we as people want to hear according to our own individual plans, thoughts or reasoning.
“How long will justice be crucified, and truth bear it? Not long, because truth crushed to earth will rise again. – M.L.K.
As I write this entry, I am reminded of a statement reportedly made by Winston Churchill, “men often say they seek the truth, but when they stumble over it they pick themselves up and rush off as if nothing happened.”
Nearly two thousand years ago something did happen. Truth was put on trial and judged by people who were devoted to lies. In fact, Truth faced six trials in less than a full day, three of which were religious, and three that were legal. During one of the trial phases a very interesting conversation between Jesus and Pilate took place, during their exchange Jesus tells Pilate …”Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” after which Pilate said to Him, ‘What is truth?’” – John 18:33–38. That simple question from Pilate has resonated down throughout history “What is truth?” In the end, few people who witnessed the aforementioned events could answer the question, “What is truth?”
In many senses this remains true of our society today. We are not sure whether we really want to be associated with truth or even someone who is considered honest. Discovering the truth for many can at times be confronting and somewhat awkward to handle. It can challenge our preconceptions and even our comfortable way of living life.
Whilst almost everyone, if they were surveyed, would say they believe honesty is still very important, there is a growing sense and evidence that for many it matters less than meeting other pressing aspirations in their life. If honesty doesn’t matter, then what does? What has replaced honesty or the search for truth in our contemporary and prosperous society?
The declining respect for churches and even God has been marked over recent times. In part, this is due to the current ongoing abuse and misuse of power in many churches today. Abuse is always a breach of trust and an ultimate act of dishonesty to the victims of such abuse and to all the followers of such bodies. Often the pursuit of power and influence by some leaders within religious institutions has overtaken the quest for truth and honesty. Protecting the status quo to advance the interests of a few and to play loosely with the truth can only further alienate many from a formal religion experience and even worse a true relationship with God. Today, where many institutional leaders in public, private or religious bodies place success and/or power ahead of honesty and truth those very institutions are in peril.
Churches need to respond honestly to the needs of the people they seek to serve both within their congregations and the wider community. They must deal with issues, with integrity. The survival of the institution itself cannot become the main game. The leadership that we seek in church is a moral leadership not just a leadership that talks about morals. It’s a leadership that believes in justice that is practiced both inside and outside of the church community. It is a leadership that values honest and open dialogue and discourse about the issues that affect the institution, the faithful and the community at large, no matter how difficult or controversial.
“No lie can live forever, because you shall reap what you sow.” – M.L.K.
As Children of Truth we need to be a committed and courageous people. We need to assert our conviction that honesty and truth do matter.
Honesty does matter if we want religious institutions that can authentically teach and preach bringing to life the Truth reflected in the gospels, making that Truth real in our world today.
“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” – M.L.K.
The landscape of contemporary society reveals signs that as a society we neither know nor care much about the Law of God. There is even a general listlessness and lawlessness in the lives of professing Christians today. There is also an absence of the fear of God in public worship and private living. Finally, there is an unsettling growing confidence in ourselves and an accompanying loss of confidence in God and His Word, – His Truth.