[i]Being Right vs. Being Real
The world is suffering from its calculated indifference to truth. How are we going to bring it healing if we are indifferent to truth ourselves? As Christians, we can be very exacting about sin, as we ought to be, but we go on as if we did not consider pretense and guile to be sin as well. There has been too much pretending in Christendom, too much withholding of ourselves, too much putting on a brave face and whistling in the dark. We have for too long gone on saying the customary words while our hearts were out of tune with our professions. We have succeeded at being "right" but have failed at being real.
God has been very merciful and patient with us. He has a great compassion for our fears and weaknesses, but He has given us a power to be real, and He has the right to expect us to live by it. He has waited long for us, but we should not expect Him to wait forever. It is going to take a painful, fearful adjustment for many of us to begin to walk in truth, but what is the alternative? Our health requires it, our sanity demands it, and our very lives depend upon it, for a life that is not true is not life.
There is an incident recorded in the fifth chapter of the Book of Acts concerning the sale of a piece of real estate. Had this episode taken place in our present generation, it would have had an entirely different conclusion. If some contemporary Ananias and Sapphira brought the proceeds, no doubt considerable, from the sale of their property to the elders of their church, they would likely be celebrated and applauded. The esteem in which their spirituality was regarded would increase greatly. Ananias might be assured a place on the church board or a position as an elder or a deacon. But this incident occurred in another age, in an hour when the Spirit of God prevailed in such magnitude and purity. That same act, which might well be celebrated today, resulted in sudden judgment and death. We can only suspect that the Church has moved a long distance away from the purity, power, and relentless pursuit of truth that characterized it at its inception. Thankfully, there is a God who has not changed and who is intent upon returning us to that same high standard.
That men and women are not being struck dead instantly in our congregations is not a statement of God's tolerance of our deceits and lies. Judgment may not be as sudden, but it is no less certain. "Bread obtained by falsehood is sweet to a man, but afterwards his mouth will be filled with gravel." (Pr 20:17 NAS). How much of the esteem, the joy, the prestige, and the peace presently being enjoyed in the Church is destined to turn to gravel in our mouths? It tastes sweet at the moment. There has been no Peter to challenge us. Truth has fallen into low regard, and there is little, if any, fear of the God who hates lies in any form. "White lies" and exaggerations and subtle misrepresentations are so frequent as to be considered normal, if not even desirable and required, in the conduct of Christian life. The perverse logic of deceit is made to seem true after all. If the ministers of God who transgress against truth are not being struck down like Ananias and Sapphira, God must have changed, or else truth has changed since the days of the Book of Acts. The reality is that God has not changed. Our lies are still killing us, only more slowly. We are starving, because the bread of deceit, no matter how sweet and plentiful, is not real food.
Every lie is an act of astonishing presumption. What must take place within my heart for me to believe that God does not discern my deceit? I must exalt my own rationalizations above the Spirit of God. Every lie is an elevation of self above truth, above the one lied to. I cannot lie to someone and still regard him as greater or even equal. The very act of lying lifts me above the one deceived; it lowers him in my sight. By lying to the Holy Spirit, Ananias and Sapphira were exalting themselves above God.[/i]