When ever I contemplate writing a book or article like this, I am reminded of the mom who sent her son off to kindergarten with
a letter pinned to his jacket. "To all whom it may concern. The opinions of this child do not necessarily represent the opinions of his family."
Well that's a candid attempt at truthfulness.
God's Universe demands honesty. Oh, try as we might - the truth will out. There's no perambulating around the pole of veracity
on planet earth. There is no hiding. The truth will come out because like it or not we live in an honest environment, but we don't realize it.
We are children of this environment and before the cultural mores of our society impacted us, honesty reigned. Take our art for example. There
was a time when a great deal of it was deemed unfit for public exhibition. Statues carved in marble by Michelangelo had so called private parts covered with plaster as if we all didn't know what was there. Books were banned, and freedom of speech was violated in the land of the free. But honesty eventually prevailed and the truth will out. They've since fixed the statues and now we can tell who's what! But it took years!
Yes, nature, the earth, and all she holds dear are honest and truthful. Winter, summer, spring and fall are all honest in their attempt to bring change in their wake. An oak behaves as an oak, not a hawthorn tree, but an oak, and I could go on. But I don't have to because we know the earth and what she's about is true to form. The environment is honest. It is we who are ready to sell the truth down the river in order to support our own ideal.
What are children famous for? Honesty! I was about five. There were some people living next door to our house that mom and dad really didn't care for. They must have had a good reason because my parents weren't prudes and they felt pretty strongly that these were folks they didn't approve of. It wasn't long before a For Sale sign appeared on their lawn and my parents were pleased. One night my dad and I were watering the grass. It was warm and comfortable outside on the lawn, the wet grass felt good between my toes as I watched dad water. Then the man who lived next door walked over to pay his respects to dad. And before his greeting was out of his mouth I said," Boy my parents sure were happy to see that For Sale sign go up on your lawn." Well, you can imagine my father's embarrassment. And of course I realized even at that young age that something was very wrong and it didn't happen until I opened my mouth. What are kids famous for if not their honesty?
Years ago I gave my former wife Marcia a pewter tea pot for Christmas. When she opened her present on Christmas morning and saw the tea pot she was not filled with enthusiasm. As I got to thinking about the tea pot and her reaction, I realized much to my shame, that she didn't care for hot tea and almost never drank it. She was not as yet a fan of pewter, didn't have any to speak of. Then why did I by her a pewter tea pot. Well, the truth will out. I didn't buy her a tea pot. I bought me a tea pot. I thought it was really neat so I bought it for her, but the fact is I bought it for me. Funny how we convince ourselves of that which is not true just to have our own way. We will go to great lengths to sell ourselves on something we want to believe. And it seems the more persuasive we are the more trouble we're in. And we don't just restrict ourselves to little things like tea pots. We do it with wars and job offers, and laws that govern the lives of people. Most especially we do it with religion. For with each denomination there comes a different perspective, and the opportunity for some to preach differently, possibly more imaginatively than others. Nevertheless, too often we're selling ourselves on what we already believe or want to believe.
We fight wars or we don't fight wars, based on what we want to believe is true, or whether one position validates our likes, or dislikes. We do it everywhere, in church, in political office, in schools, in hospitals, and in our relationships. It seems the only one true test for getting to the bottom of truth is time. Given enough time - the truth will out. But how many injustices have to take place? How many people must be killed, how many tea pots do we have to buy before we look to the example of Jesus and say, "Well, this is what he would have done if he were me."
When I was attending seminary many years ago, a young man wrote a wonderful article on how the Bible was used during the civil war period to support both the abolitionist point of view and the pro slavery point of view. The arguments were persuasive and supported by scripture, yet there was a right and wrong side to the issue. One only need look to the heart of Jesus as we know him to know the truth about slavery. Yet people go to great lengths to prove what they want to believe.
The bottom line for me is John 8:32 "And you will know the truth and the truth will set you free." As we search our hearts for
the answers to today's problems may we find guidance in those words. If the side you come down on brings more freedom to people, chances are
it's where Jesus would stand. One thing I do know from this experience. My wife would have had a much nicer Christmas had I not been quite so
self persuasive. Tea pot... Cracked pot is more in keeping with the truth!