The Church Must Be Honest
I know that seems like such an obvious thing but with just over 25 years logged in to the Church I can tell you it’s not. Denial is as powerful a force in the Church as it is anywhere else. So is magical thinking. So is exaggeration and embellishment. So is bold faced lying.
E: You’re saying we’re lying about the story of Jesus?
CV: What I’m saying is that we need to make honesty a value so that people who are considering following Jesus don’t trip over all our fabrications.
E: What “fabrications”?
CV: Well, we often share opinions as facts and there are many times we repeat stories we’ve heard as true that we’ve never verified and turn out to be urban legends. We say things are that aren’t and we call it “faith”.
E: But you’ve got to create an atmosphere where miracles can happen!
CV: What??? What does that mean?
E: I, um, I don’t know exactly, I read that somewhere…
CV: Are you in favour of lying?
E: Of course not. Lying is a sin. I never lie. It’s not a lie if you believe it.
CV: But is something true just because you believe it?
E: Um, I feel like that’s a trick question.
CV: Remember the Tom Cruise Scientology video? The one where he sounded all crazy, laughing and talking in Scientology lingo and insisting that they, the Scientologists, had the answers for everything?
E: Dude! I loved that video. Hilarious and scary at the same time!
CV: Well, that’s exactly how you sound when you talk about following Jesus sometimes.
E: Get out!
CV: Two words: Benny Hinn.
E: I know Benny!
CV: I’m sure you do E. Here’s the thing, we make exaggerated claims that can’t be verified. Worse, they can be proven false. How can someone know which parts to believe and which parts are o.k. for us to make up? We end up making the whole thing look bogus.
E: Still love his white suit.
CV: But it’s not just Benny Hinn, it’s the thousands and thousands who flock after him and those like him. Gullible is almost too mild to describe how we appear. And if we’ll believe this, we’ll believe anything and if we’ll believe anything why should anyone take anything we say or believe seriously.
E: So no Benny and we’re good?
CV: Not really. There’s a more fundamental issue, an honesty that’s closer to home that we must embrace.
E: I’m guessing I won’t like this.
CV: I’m guessing you won’t either. We’ve got to be honest about our own stuff. You talked like you never sin a second ago and I happen to know you do.
E: Never! *Dude, are you trying to wreck my testimony here?*
CV: Only if your testimony is a lie. I think people would be more likely to listen to our stories if we told about our failures and not just successes. If we were straight about how crooked we really are others might actually start to take us seriously. I once heard a guy you’d like preach about how he’s never been sick a day since he started following Jesus.
E: Sounds awesome!
CV: Yeah, except he obviously had a cold, runny nose and all, while he told us.
CV: But that’s exactly how we sound when we try to come across as people who have all the answers when our lives are clearly messy, or clearly uptight. We come across as hollow and out of touch with reality when we insist that following Jesus somehow makes us better than everyone else.
E: But it does…doesn’t it?
CV: No E, it really doesn’t, and Jesus never really meant for us to think that it did or would. What following Jesus means is that for the first time we can be completely honest about our stuff because he knows it all and chooses to love us still.
E: Well, maybe you’re not perfect. Maybe you just lack the faith and holiness I clearly have.
CV: Maybe. But then maybe I know what you were thinking about that waitress at the restaurant the other day…
E: Hey! Shut up! Was not! I’m not listening! Lies, all lies!
CV: Catch you later E, catch you later.