Truth is required before we can have trust. We must trust to have true peace. Therefore without truth we cannot have true peace.
Something unusually happened the other day. A Kentucky Republican said from the senate floor, “They were provoked by the president and other powerful people. The mob was fed lies. That Kentucky Republican was Mitch McConnell, the leader of the Senate Republicans. This will unfortunately be debated on Fox News, CNN and other outlets as to whether he should have, why did he and why now is he stating this. Our playing with the treatment of the truth as a side story instead of a standard is sign of a corroded society.
Let’s be honest. Four years ago the term fake news was not a apart of our lexicon. Though in the 13th Century BC, Ramseses the Great spread falsehoods and propaganda detailing the Battle of Kadesh as a rousing victory. They painted the walls of the temples with scenes depicting their triumph over the Hittites. However, the treaty between the two nations, Egypt and the Hittites indicates that it was in fact a stalemate. That was 3500 years ago. So fake news is not new news.
However, fake news has become so intrinsic in our broadcasts that the integrity of news has been shattered. There are two causes for this dismantling. 1. As was the case of Ramseses, our leaders have continued providing narratives and details that cheat or outright offend the truth. 2. News reporting can be simply a recitation of the facts of past or forthcoming event. i.e. The KC Chiefs won the Superbowl in 2020 which is a factual statement reported as news. The K.C. Chiefs won the Superbowl because the NFL wants to crown Patrick Mahomes the new prince of Football. That is an editorial or opinion piece which may or may not be true, but for some reading this title and if presented as news, it will be accepted as truth whether it is or not. This creates opportunity for some fiction to be sprinkled in with some non-fiction when broadcasting the news. Remember, something cannot be completely true if it contains a little bit of lying.
Because of the numerous news outlets that dispute one another and many who do not let the falsity of a scintillating story stop it from putting it out, trust in them has diminished. This distrust is not isolated to the press. Our opinion of politicians who are notorious for self-aggrandizing tangos with the truth has majorly dwindled as well. (that goes for Dems and Reps.).
Besides the fact that truthfulness is a character of God which we should emulate for society to be civil, God mandates truth telling. (though shall not lie.) The story of Ananias and Sapphira emphasizes God’s hatred for lying and the outcome. Ananias and Sapphira were a married couple who sold their land and gave some of the proceeds to the disciples. They lied, telling Peter that it was all the money when in fact they had held some back for themselves. When Peter confronted them, they died. Though immediate death seems like a very harsh punishment for lying, it shows us how much God hates dishonesty.
As we transition the executive branch of the federal government, we are suffering the consequences of a national lack of trust in governance. On one side you have those who believe Donald Trump’s unsupported posturing that the election in November is choc full of fraud and that he won it. People who believe him now do not trust the House of Representatives, the Senate leaders McConnell and Schumer, the Supreme Court and anyone who says otherwise. On the other side you have those who do not trust the former administration, Fox news, most Republican federal officials and anyone who believes Trump’s election narrative. You also have factions who do not know what to believe and/or do not believe any of the cocktail of news stories broadcast, printed, and disseminated.
“A truthful witness saves lives, but a false witness is a traitor.” Prov 14:25
Lies may comfort or make others feel good, it may fuel the power one needs to sustain a movement, but the temporary satisfaction or jolt can result in great catastrophe. The outcome of our societal lack of trust in our elected officials on a large scale manifested in what we saw on January 6th –anger and mob violence sparked and spread by lies. The outcome of this lack of trust is the continued tension across racial, geographic, religious, political, and generational strata.
The word “devil,” in Greek is diabolos, which can be translated as, “to divide,” “to separate,” or more literally, “to throw against.” A war is a state of armed conflict between different nations or states or different groups within a nation or state. Based on the 800% increase in militia membership growth and the numerous shows of force nationally one could say that we are at war, and if we are not, there are quite a few folks out there preparing like we are. This is in part because an insistence of some to tell and others clinging to– lies. Lies like the Jews are orchestrating a white genocide by promoting reproduction by people of different races. Lies like all immigrants are rapists and criminals. Lies like all Black run countries are s***holes. Belief in these untruths give some the rationale they need to count non-whites as inferior and treat them accordingly, whether it be by law or violence.
Jesus desires unity. “I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me. And I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are one”. (John 17:20-22) So those who create division and separation in the body of Christ are not of Christ.
Though there are real differences in the body, these differences do not mandate division. The Church is required to overcome our societal attraction to tribalism and strengthen the body of Christ as the communion for all members.
We all know the story of the Emperor’s New Clothes. The emperor’s new clothes is about a vain emperor who gets exposed before his subjects. Two swindlers arrive at the capital city of an emperor who spends lavishly on clothing at the expense of state matters. Posing as weavers, they offer to make him magnificent clothes that are invisible to those who are stupid or incompetent. The emperor hires them, and they stage setting up looms and go to work. A succession of officials, and then the emperor himself, visit them to check their progress. Each sees that the looms are empty but pretends otherwise to avoid being thought a fool. Finally, the weavers report that the emperor’s suit is finished. They mime dressing him and he sets off in a procession before the whole city. The townsfolk uncomfortably go along with the pretense, not wanting to appear inept or stupid, until a child blurts out that the emperor is wearing nothing at all. The people then realize that everyone has been fooled. Although startled, the emperor continues the procession, walking more proudly than ever. He doubled down.
Are you one of the people who just went along with the Emperor, by buying into the lie and acting as though he wore clothes despite the backlash you may experience. Or are you confident enough, obedient enough, honest enough, faithful enough, to not just stand for the truth, but call out lies.
The world is filled with lies and deception. Jesus warned His disciples to be aware of deception (Matthew 24:4). The church is the target of the devil. Satan is the father of lies, and it is in his nature to deceive and divide. We as followers of Christ are supposed to be aware of Satan’s devices (2 Corinthians 2:11). Ephesians 6:11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.
Paul addressed the issue of lies among believers because it became a problem in the early church. Ephesians 4:25 “Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.” In 1 John 2:21 John wrote: “…not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because no lie is of the truth.” We should not be involved with anything that is not of the truth. As believers in Christ, we are to speak the truth in love and to expose all the works of evil.
God is light, totally absent of darkness. As His children, made in His image we are called to be children of the light. 1 John 1:6 says: “If we say that we have fellowship with Him and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.” Truth is light; therefore we are to walk in truth.
It is easy to say that racism is wrong, sexism is wrong, violence is wrong when it is comfortable and popular to say such. However, Jesus taught and showed us that those who tell the truth will be persecuted, just as He was. We must pray for the wisdom to always discern the truth and strength to act on it even in the midst of persecution. If we do so, the chokehold of dishonesty that taints society and the church can be dampened and the light of the Lord that we reflect shall shine.
If only the body of Christ would stand unified, just imagine. If only we the body of the church stood up. Artists use your talent to articulate the truth. Listeners require truth be told in what you consume. If people did not buy into lies that are pervasive in our nation, we would not have had an attack on our capital, five people would be alive, and we would not have a threat of subsequent unfortunate events. Be aware. Be Honest. Be Loving.