Truth has been up for grabs for a very long time now. Dictionary.com defines “truth” as follows: (1) the true or actual state of a matter; (2) conformity with fact or reality; verity: the truth of a statement; (3) a verified or indisputable fact, proposition, principle, or the like; (4) the state or character of being true; and (5) actuality or actual existence.
I remember as a kid having my mouth washed out with soap if I was caught telling a lie. For those of us who still use bar soap you know how horrible that tastes (well, even today’s liquid soap would probably have the same affect). It was used primarily as both a punishment and a preventative–to punish us for lying in the first place and to stop us from lying in the future. And, as goes the way of most attempts at behavior modification, it worked temporarily until we found another reason to lie (because the truth, mostly likely, would hurt us personally). And it still goes on today just as it did when we were kids.
Dictionary.com defines “lie” as follows: (1) a false statement made with deliberate intent to deceive; an intentional untruth; a falsehood; (2) something intended or serving to convey a false impression; imposture; (3) an inaccurate or false statement; a falsehood; (4) the charge or accusation of telling a lie; (5) to speak falsely or utter untruth knowingly, as with intent to deceive; (6) to express what is false; convey a false impression.
I’m sure we can all relate to that definition; however, we have perfected an art of lying that has invaded–on a massive scale–all levels of society: the art of telling “half truths.” We all can shake our heads in agreement when we think of all the “half truths” that are spewed forth by our politicians (I think the days of honest politicians died with “Honest Abe”–Abraham Lincoln, our 16th president who was assassinated in 1865). Half truths ring the halls of our national, state and local governments; in businesses of every type; and in the halls of academia (well, maybe not so much in the sciences, after all, math is still math but we can still spread half truths by manipulating statistics) and it starts in kindergarten and continues right on up through post-doctoral studies. It also has invaded our churches or religious belief systems, and is alive and well in just about all of our relationships with other people. And . . . we convince ourselves that telling a “half truth” isn’t as bad as telling an outright lie (well, sociopaths notwithstanding). And if we think we don’t get caught in it’s trap, here’s the perfect example of a “half truth”: gossip–you know, that “idle talk or rumor, especially about the personal or private affairs of others” (quote source here) that gets exaggerated way beyond any truth from the originating statement.
Dictionary.com defines “half truth” as follows: (1) a statement that is only partly true, especially one intended to deceive, evade blame, or the like; and (2) a statement the fails to divulge the whole truth.
Hmmmm . . . “intended to deceive, evade blame; failure to divulge the whole truth.” Sounds like most conversations we have nowadays. Lying (which is really all that a “half truth” is) is so commonplace that we don’t even flinch when we lie anymore. It just rolls off our tongues, especially if it makes us look good at the expense of someone else, or if it will win us “brownie points” with whoever we are trying to impress. Well, there are any number of reasons why we lie . . . hundreds of reasons, actually. And mostly, it’s because we don’t like the truth, or we don’t want to deal with the truth, or we want to hide the truth. And lying (or telling “half truths” if it makes us feel better to state it that way) is just as common among Christians as it is anyplace else in our society.
A.W. Tozer, a Christian pastor, spiritual mentor, and prolific writer who died in 1963, stated the following:
“The low view of God entertained almost universally among Christians is the cause of a hundred lesser evils everywhere among us… The decline of the knowledge of the holy has brought on our troubles. A rediscovery of the majesty of God will go a long way toward curing them” (from “The Knowledge of the Holy,” quote source here). [A PDF copy of the “The Knowledge of the Holy” is available by clicking here–it is 81 pages.]
“The low view of God . . . is the cause of a hundred lesser evils everywhere among us.” If we are Christian (and I know not everyone is, but I primarily write to a Christian audience), that statement ought to give us pause for some serious thought. Oh, I know we have those great “worship” times in church on Sunday morning when we sing our hearts out to the Lord or while listening to Christian music at home or in the car or elsewhere (and I’m a big fan of music so I’m not knocking it at all) but do those times of worship have any affect on how we live our lives or treat others (including coworkers, bosses, family members, and everyone else we come into contact with) for the rest of the week? Does God only matter to us in church, or at those times we “allot” to Him during the week (“scant” comes to mind) and do we relegate God to the back shelf of our lives until next Sunday morning? Folks, we are talking about the Creator of the entire Universe, and we treat Him like we’re going to a football game to get pumped up for “our side” for a few hours and then go back to living life any way we want again until the next time we go to back to get “pumped up” again.
And our “low view” of God is killing us . . . .
Do we take seriously these words from Proverbs 6:16-19 (MSG), which states the following (read them slowly):
Here are six things God hates,
and one more that he loathes with a passion:
~eyes that are arrogant,
~a tongue that lies,
~hands that murder the innocent,
~a heart that hatches evil plots,
~feet that race down a wicked track,
~a mouth that lies under oath,
~a troublemaker in the family.
When was the last time we heard a sermon on that portion of Scripture? Over the past several decades our Christianity has become so “us” focused that the “god” we say we worship doesn’t look anything like the God in the Bible. And there is only one God. So who exactly are we worshipping?
This one question might help us to get our focus back . . . how do we treat our neighbors, or a complete stranger, or widows, or orphans, or those less fortunate, or the homeless we cross the street to ignore, or folks we gossip about, or even someone who has that job we really want and we’re willing to screw them over to get it? In other words, are we living a lie by the way we live our lives? Who is the god we really worship? Is it the God of the Bible, or is it a god of our own making?
Jesus stated in John 14:6, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” The ONLY way there is to really know God is to know Jesus Christ, who is God’s only Son. If you don’t know Jesus Christ, you can’t know God. And Jesus has a lot to say about how we should be living our lives if we are truly His disciples, but you can’t learn how to do it without a real, vital, and living relationship with Jesus Christ that comes from reading the Bible and praying. And reading the Gospel of John is a good place to start.
If we’re looking for truth, here’s truth from 1 John 1:1 – 2:2 (NIV):
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We write this to make our joy complete.
This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.
My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.
“If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin” (vv. 6-7). The way we live our lives as followers of Jesus Christ does matter. And it matters right now. And the power to live our lives as followers of Jesus Christ is in our relationship with Jesus Christ . . . a relationship that isn’t put on a shelf most of the week between Sunday mornings worship services.
Walking in darkness means living life on our own terms while giving “lip service” to the One we claim to love and follow. It is, in fact, living a lie and we cover it up with half-truths. Jesus stated in John 8:31-32, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
And that’s the only truth there is . . .
YouTube Video: “Gotta Serve Somebody,” sung by Shirley Caesar: