Thursday, January 6, 2011

You can't handle the truth! Probably. But we sure do need it.

I’ve begun the New Year reading an excellent book, Caring for Words in a Culture of Lies by Marilyn Chandler McEntyre which speaks of the importance of loving language. There are all sorts of reasons to love words, but one of the primary reasons is that words and conversations help us discern the truth. We of course know, and McEtyre points out, words can equally be used to cover up the truth. After all, hearing the truth about ourselves, about our world, is never an easy thing. She quotes the philosopher, Pascal, “We hate the truth, and people hide it from us; we want to be flattered, and people flatter us; we like being deceived and we are deceived” and then adds her own commentary, “The deceptions we particularly seem to want are those that comfort, insulate, legitimate, and provide ready excuses for inaction.”

We know things are not well with our marriage or our family, but we let our spouses or children convince us otherwise. We know that what the politician says probably isn’t true, but we vote for him anyway. We know that our own promises to do better or drink less or save more are completely empty, but we voice them nevertheless. We do so, because deceptions bring us a temporary peace. Voicing and believing lies proves easier than hearing the truth that shall set us free.

Our culture is so full of such lies (and we tell so many), it’s difficult for us to even begin to commit ourselves to telling and hearing the truth, even if it’s God who speaks such truth. And yet, salvation won’t be found in those who declare “Peace, peace” where there is no peace (Jeremiah 8:11). No, only with the One who can both accurately diagnose our disease and then provide the cure will redeem us from our sins. But how do we open ourselves up to hearing his word? McEntyre provides some penetrating questions that might just bring us closer to the truth, “What today am I avoiding knowing? Why? What point of view am I protecting? Why?” David put it slightly differently but equally effective, “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24).

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