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I have always desired the transparency of Jesus. Or, at least I thought I did. It sounded so spiritual. So...well, it sounded like something I should want. But transparency demands truth, so, I have endeavoured to live in truth. However, I have failed more than I have succeeded in this area. That is because, sometimes, I am afraid of the truth. It was all right for Jesus to be so honest; after all, he was the Son of God. He had everything going for him. But me, I’m too scared to live in the complete truth.
What does it mean to live in truth? I had to find out. 3 John 4 says, “I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth.” Walking implies a day-by-day, moment-by-moment, step-by-step choice to live in truth. But is it so important to be truthful about everything in life? Or is it just the big things that I have to worry about? Do I have to be truthful to everyone, or just to God? Ephesians 4:15 (Amplified) gave me the answer I was looking for. “...let our lives lovingly express truth in all things - speaking truly, dealing truly, living truly.” Well, that just about summed it up.
But still I struggled. What does a person look like who walks in the truth? It is a person who is consistent in all that he says and does. It is a person who is not afraid to let you into their lives, because you won’t find a difference between their personal lives and their public lives. A person who says, “I love God” but then goes home and is verbally abusive to their spouse or children does not really love God. That is not truth. What is on the outside must match what is on the inside.
Several years ago our family went to Hawaii. We were shopping at the International Market and they were selling these lovely jade rings. They were gold dipped, guaranteed to last a lifetime, and so I bought two for five dollars. They were so pretty and when I wore them, someone always commented on how beautiful they were. People actually thought they were real. And you know what? They did last for a very long time because I took very good care of them. But one day the gold started to chip off. I had actually forgot I was wearing one of them and was scrubbing out the sink, when I realized what I’d done. But it was too late. The gold had worn off and the bare metal inside was showing.
Some Christians are like this too. We want to be transparent. We want to be truthful. But when troubles come our way and we get a little “roughed up” so to speak, we show, whether we want to or not, what is really on the inside. Arthur Katz, in his book The Spirit of Truth says, “...our actual condition, the true state of our inner man, is revealed not by how biblically correct we are, but by the sound we make when we hit the ground.”
We all hit the ground eventually. One day King David hit the ground. You know the story, how he arranged Uriah’s death so that he could take his wife Bathsheba for himself? Well, the prophet Nathan came to him to tell him about an outrageous thing that happened. He tells him the story of a wealthy man who needs a lamb because he has company. So he goes out and takes one from a poor neighbour. Of course, David “burned with anger” the Bible says, and demanded to know who would do such a thing for he would make him pay four times over for his lack of pity and greed. Nathan, of course, says, “You are the man.” This was the moment of truth for David. He had become transparent.
The world is watching us. Whether we like it or not, eventually the truth of who and what we are shows through. So it is our innermost being that needs to be transformed - all of it. We need to allow the Holy Spirit to pervade our entire being. We need a constant in-filling of the Spirit. And then, the bluffing has to stop. The false modesty has to stop. The white lies must stop. The false flattery must stop. We must begin to speak the truth in love without fear of recrimination. When we respond to a prayer request with sincerity, but we’re really not sincere or when we pretend that we love someone we do not, what effect does that have on our bodies? Are ulcers and anxiety and depression totally unrelated to not living in truth? Arthur Katz says that, “Every lie dulls the mind, confuses the emotions, and blunts the spirit of the one expressing it - and of the one receiving it - while adding to the unreality and untruth of the atmosphere we all breathe and depend upon for our lives together.”
The choice between the truth and a lie is a daily one. And it is only when we each, as individuals, choose to live and walk in the truth, that the Church will be that vital force in the world. If every officer and soldier made the commitment to walk daily in the truth, the Salvation Army would completely awaken and realize its full potential. Many have prayed for change in our organization. And change is coming. But it will only happen when we change - because “we” are the Army.
Hypocrisy or truth - that is our choice. Whether we don’t speak the truth because of our fear of rejection, of recrimination through the appointment system, or because we are afraid of what people will think of us - it doesn’t matter. When we let fear reign in our lives, hypocrisy reigns with it. We must choose between integrity and convenience.
I wrote this because I was challenged by something I read in a writer’s magazine. It was an article on creativity. The author tells why people who want to write but don’t, are afraid. They are afraid basically of what people will think of their writing, their opinion, but most of all, they are afraid of what people will think of them. That is because good writing reveals the inner turmoil of the writer - the tension that makes writing exciting. Are you not drawn more to writing that challenges you, that contradicts what you think and feel to be true, that is somewhat controversial in nature? I am. But, to do it myself – I don’t know.
So I have decided to go ahead, despite my fears. And I will be honest and say that I, too, am terribly afraid of the truth. I am afraid the Army is afraid of the truth. I am afraid of what God thinks of us because of our fear. I am afraid that we will not be who God wants us to be unless we face the truth. And when we face the truth - we are set free. Free from our fears. What about you? John says that the truth abides in us - so let’s speak it. Let’s live it. Let’s be truth in everything we do.