What about our culture makes people only do things for show, in other words take on the shape of duplicity? I know a fear of ridicule has always been a motivation to take the shape of something else, to avert attention to my own short-comings. Though at some point, this gilding will begin to flake off, and expose a truth, which by its very nature is a painful lesson. Warner and Twain, wrote about the Gilded Age as a matter of truth in the late 19th century to expose in his own way a point greed and corruption. The thing is, this façade people put up to prevent a truth is sometimes rather innocuous and other times, so abhorrent, risking its exposure could reveal true evil intentions to everyone. So, where are we at with all this show, we’re nowhere, we don’t have the truth, but what is more alarming is, why aren’t people beating the doors down for truth in everything we do?
I think my last question is an important question because we look at all the news outlets, and people we speak to daily, and there is a definite pursuit of truth by everyone. Are we any closer to a truth? I think we are, but just like any truth, for those who accept it, and accept the pain which comes along with it, you see a progression in society, it seems more and more people are becoming tired of being spoon fed a subjective truth. For those others, they see the truth the way they see it, and just can’t accept anything else. Perhaps we’re all like this, but real truth can be tested and isn’t subject to failure. Maybe because the obvious pain it involves, or because they are so convinced of the other “truths” without any knowledge other than anecdote or perceptive reality, to believe something else in the same way, which so concretely disputes their original perception of truth would be an absence of reality to them.
What is truth? A question posed to Jesus by Pilate in John’s Gospel (Jn 18:38). Jesus, for any Christian, is not just a good and wise man, but in truth the divine God, and a sinless man. This is the truth, we have three potential view we can take with Jesus. The first is he was a nutter, he was completely crazy and in this we can dismiss everything he ever said or did. However, when we deduce truth from the overall writings (which are more prolific than any ancient texts, and on a linear timeline, closer to the point of occurrence by relation to witnesses than most writings of this time-period), we see, no, one thought of him as crazy, this is understood by many examples of people who were clearly perceived as crazy, or possessed in the writings and yet no parallels were drawn into conclusion. If Jesus was anything like them, there might have been a footnote indicating this, but instead, all texts keep his lucid behavior in the forefront. So, a resounding “no” to the crazy behavior, which subsequently was also answered because of the rapid Christian movement in the early first century.
The next portion of the three-pronged attack, is everything Jesus was doing was all for show, the whole sticking point to this, and perhaps the strongest point anyone may bring to an invalid nature of Jesus. Perhaps everything Jesus did was a show, a matter of trickery, one where he deluded everyone and was ultimately responsible for the death of his followers, the Apostles. Though, we see a zeal extend well beyond his earthly life and find itself rooted deep in the hearts of his followers. Why? Why would they go to their deaths believing in a liar? Doesn’t make sense, and before we go and think of the simplistic nature of people who lived two millennia ago, we should also remember, some of the most thought provoking and enlightening texts ever written are over two-thousand years old. We are very knowledgeable these days, but we didn’t invent thought or reason, and people could rightfully determine untruths or even duplicity in this time, if even unable to articulate in words, because of lack of education. Ok, so his disciples didn’t think him to be a liar, but what if he was just a good guy, from back in the neighborhood, and “we trust him, even if we know he stretches the truth a little”. This surely can’t be it either, a large enough segment of people would have to have believed in everything he was doing, to follow him and begin the movement of the early Christians, and not just a movement in belief, but a belief in a movement to the ends of death. Nothing about Jesus’s life was for show, and nothing about his actions make us doubt who he was. The evidence for this deduction is the movement which arrived after his resurrection, any misapprehension of his ministry or unbelief in him has become something after the fact, and we should always remember this simple understanding.
Finally we come to the hard truth, which we deduce (simply I will admit, but the pillars of logic are sitting there for whatever weight you can place upon them), and find , if Jesus is not one of the previous two, than in the words of Peter Kreeft, “It is the most important argument in Christian apologetics, for once an unbeliever accepts the conclusion of this argument (that Christ is divine), everything else in the Faith follows, not only intellectually (Christ’s teachings must all then be true) but also personally (if Christ is God, He is also your total Lord and Savior).”
So, the truth might be a little painful to arrive at, and further change everything which we’ve believe thus far, but this doesn’t make it any less true, just us less willing to accept the truth. Ok, so how does this pertain to us and our duplicity, here goes; failing to accept what is fundamental to our nature, and then failing to pursue the path of what we find as being truth, will lead us down a path of untruths and show, which are further built upon the showing of our untruths. A little double-speak here, but not altogether wrong. Knowing this, is like knowing a wonderful secret, but with some people no matter what is said to them, they choose not to believe, or even discuss reason as it applies to this truth. This truth, comes in the form of what we like, or don’t like. It may manifest itself and an almost debilitating fear of future or ridicule, as it pertains to overall responsibility.
My responsibility as a man, husband, and father carries with it a tremendous potential to be duplicitous with my instructions to my kids, but failing to live by my own rules, or even as it pertains to my wife. It would be very easy to conform to whatever she wanted or vice versa, but in the end, I would make myself unhappy giving her what she wants all the time, or being a virtual puppet to her life. However, unwillingness to capitulate and work together would be a selfish attempt at a showing some form of strength for the sake of winning which truthfully carries with it a mountain of duplicity. The truth of this lies somewhere in the middle, being truthful, means not always telling people what they want to hear, but with compassion as we understand the truth can rip apart a belief in a matter of seconds, and everything a person ever believed will cease to exist (look at Saul of Tarsus, later Paul, and his conversion to the truth). His truth consisted of ridiculing and even putting to death early Christians, but faced with the truth, his bright light and the voice of Jesus, he was blinded literally, but he pursued the truth at any cost, even to his death.
Ok, so why do people don’t look to the truth, when their duplicity works? The answer is in the question, it’s easier to be something we’re not (perceptibly, or at least continue the lie), than it is to rip away the exterior and risk being exposed for who we are. It’s easier to complain about a toothache than to drive to a dentist and go through the pain of pulling out the tooth. True fear, because we believe everything is within our control, I would like to think, what you see is what you get with me, but I have insecurities just like everyone, and this causes me to try and hide those fears so I’m not hurt or exposed for anything less than a personal strength. Giving it all to God, means all, it doesn’t matter what anyone thinks of you if your focus is clearly on the pursuit of the one true God. This for me, is a true test of faith, to put it out there so I can face ridicule or at least to allow for the catharsis which happens when we give our all to anything as a sacrifice to ourselves.
In my own life, my focus hasn’t always been where it should or needed to be. I was concerned with my career, hobbies, or anything which would put me front and center as attention goes. I blame some of this on my “middle child syndrome” or a selfish understanding of “life’s not fair”, but most of the blame goes on our culture and lack of real tangible willingness to handle the truth and this concept is filtered down to everyone. Regardless of what truth to what issue is presented, I’ve lied to everyone, at one point or another, and convinced myself, no one ever knew. Years later, as I’ve tried with each day to be better and focus more on God, I notice the same people acting differently towards me, in a very positive way. It was then, when I realized these events, the whole time I thought people couldn’t possibly know what the truth about me was, they could see straight through me which for me now is true fear. They choose to accept me, even when they knew they weren’t always getting the real person, because they knew somehow the real person was in there somewhere. This is my mission with my own kids, I want them to pursue a life devoted to the truth, even when exposed to the truth, they are not shown to be in a good light. The exposure of truth is like cleaning a wound, it really can hurt, especially if you allowed the wound to become infected and festering. If you allow this wound to become gangrene it could kill you, or at the very least cause you to lose something very dear to you (an arm, a leg). Within our own lives, this figurative gangrene, we’ll just call it what it is, sin, can kill you as well. This is what I’m attempting to teach my kids, wounds happen, they are created when we hurt others and when we’re hurt by others. The only thing which will allow them to heal is the truth. Some are so much worse than others, and although those wounds heal, they will always leave a scar. The longer we allow something to fester, the greater chance for a scar to develop, assuming we ever heal the wound.
My wife is at the forefront of my mind when it comes to pursuing the truth, I want to always be there for her, I want to always give her everything and never leave anything back. I don’t want to give an untruthful exterior and allow her to perceive something which isn’t there. When she asks how I feel about things, which isn’t all that often as you can tell I’m somewhat long-winded, but when she does ask me, I want to be as truthful as possible and give as much compassion as possible. When anyone, especially someone we love asks us our thoughts or feelings about anything, they are exposing themselves so we can either embrace them with our loving actions, or we can cut them with our duplicitous and lying behavior. Be a true lover to your wives, give everything you have, even if they don’t give initially, they will, they will follow your lead. Be strong, don’t capitulate to outside pressures in being something you’re not. You are a man, a husband, a father, a human. Be this, be willing to accept truth when it is presented to you, and be willing in the light of truth to admit fault and failure. A truly unconditional experience of love will embrace your faults and failures, much like Jesus did with those people who needed their wounds healed by the truth.
Look at anyone who is truly exposed by the truth, and watch how the emotion will rush to them like a wind. On many occasions, I’ve been brought to emotion as I realized in a split second where I should be. Often, it came in silence, and every time, I could see God in every fiber of this truth. I hope the light of God, is reflected upon your journey, and it will show you the way to truth, and nothing is ever for show. Don’t be a disservice to those who love you the most, be who you are.
The unconditional love will be overwhelming, I don’t even know you, but I can tell you this, I would never want you to play a part with me, just be who you are. Even if we never connected as anything more than an acquaintance, we would have the respect, or love, of truth behind what we do. May God bless you and your family!!!
God is good, all the time and all the time, God is good!!!