Jesus said, “I tell you the truth,” 78 times in Scripture, but we are desperately afraid to utter the same words. Gordon Lish said, “The secret of good writing is telling the truth.”
Anne Lamott agrees. “Risk being unliked,” she said. “Tell the truth as you understand it. If you’re a writer, you have a moral obligation to do this. And it is a revolutionary act–truth is always subversive.”
We are admonished to speak the truth in a loving manner. We are told that Jesus is the divine mixture of grace and truth. The Bible says that the truth will MAKE us free. And yet we shrink from saying it, me included. Why?
Because we are afraid. Afraid of what others might think. Afraid our reputations might get marred. Once the Lord asked me this stinging question: Are you living for your reputation or for Me? Ouch. We are afraid of other people.
Because we don’t admit the truth to ourselves. If we can’t admit the truth about ourselves (I am a sinner in desperate need of grace), how do we expect to be able to articulate truth?
Because we want and love control. If we keep everything hidden, we can present ourselves in the way we want to be perceived. In this way, we control what others see. I would be willing to wager that most Christians live in this realm of control, busily building outer facades while our inner heart is well hidden.
Because we love the applause of man over the applause of heaven. Paul says, “For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ” (Galatians 1:10). Wow. We are called to be bond-servants of Jesus Christ, but if we live our lives to please only others, then we miss the mark.
Because we believe hiding works. King David “hid” his sin for a long time. But God sees. Our sin will eventually find us out. Our facades will fall away–if not in this life, then in the other. We cannot maintain fakery for very long.
Because we have a wrong idea of Jesus as Truth and Grace holding hands. Jesus is Love personified–the utter embodiment of beautiful affection, and yet He also told the stinging truth. At times gentle, at other times pointed (brood of vipers and whitewashed tombs are things he called the religious leaders), Jesus told the truth, no lace adorning it. Jesus is love, but He was not always nice. It seems we have “niced” the world to death, afraid of saying truthful things. The truth, Jesus said, will set us free. Perhaps that’s why Satan is so into cajoling us into hiding. He knows that if truth is shared, even hard truth, that people will be set free.
As Anne Lamott says, telling the truth is a subversive act. Will we be willing to be subversive? Do we dare write the truth to those who are longing for an authentic, revived church?
I hope and pray there are many who will take up this cross and endeavor to write with grace and truth holding hands.