by Michael J. Klassen
In the movie The Invention Of Lying, Mark Bellison (played by Ricky Gervais) lives in a world where everyone tells the truth. Instead of pasting a smile on their face, everybody says what they mean—and what they’re thinking.
(just a warning: the movie includes vulgar references—including the movie trailer above)
In one scene, Mark enters a restaurant with his date Anna, played by Jennifer Garner. The waiter walks up to the table and says, “I’m very embarrassed I work here.” Then he looks at Anna and confesses, “You’re very pretty…that only makes this worse.”
Even television ads tell the truth. In one scene, Bob, a spokesman for the Coca Cola company, explains to the television audience,
It’s basically just brown sugar water, we haven’t changed the ingredients much lately…we changed the can around a little bit though. See, the colors here are different there, and we added a polar bear so the kids like us.
He concludes by saying, “It’s very famous, everyone knows it. I’m Bob, I work for Coke, and I’m asking you to not stop buying coke. That’s all. It’s a bit sweet. Thank you.”
What Would Your World Look Like If Everyone Told The Truth?
Because everybody only tells the truth, they believe everything they’re told—despite their honesty and frankness.
Interestingly enough, because everyone is honest with each other, people don’t get upset with what they hear. They may be hurt by someone’s words, but they aren’t surprised.
What if everyone in our world was honest with each other? What if we said what we meant?
Initially, we’d probably be hurt, but over time, we’d learn to take people’s opinions in stride. We’d also discover that everyone is messed up, because we wouldn’t conceal our shortcomings and failures.
I’m part of a pretty amazing small group community. We meet twice a month for our formal gatherings, but we get together much more often than that. I like to say that “we live life together.” In fact, many of us are going to see a popular comedian tonight. We enjoy being together.
For the past year, a different person from the group has shared their story at our formal meetings. They pass around photos, tell stories from their past, and confess their shortcomings and failures.
A month ago, it was my turn to tell my story. And to be honest, in the hours leading up to the meeting, I was freaking out. What if I bore everyone? What if I’m a disappointment?
Nevertheless, I chose to jump into the murky waters of vulnerability.
Afterward, the group encouraged me and accepted me…despite knowing a little more about what I’m really like. I felt so overwhelmingly affirmed and loved.
We All Need Truth-Telling Relationships And Communities
We all need friends and communities of friends who really know us and accept us. Who love us despite our shortcomings and failures.
Referring to Christian community, Paul wrote, “Speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ” (Ephesians 4:15 NIV, italics added).
After all, relationships are built on honesty and truth-telling. Plastic smiles and always-cheerful dispositions do nothing to deepen a friendship or marriage.
Notice Paul says that by speaking the truth in love (which doesn’t apply only to confrontation), we become like Christ. If you read the four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John), which focus specifically on Jesus’ life here on earth, we see a full range of emotions in Jesus. He lived an authentic life and spoke honestly to the people around him.
I know, I know, you’re probably telling yourself, If people really knew me, they wouldn’t like me. But if everyone was honest about themselves, we’d all realize that we’re all messed up. We couldn’t look down on someone because they could equally look down on us. Rather than try to fix each other, we’d delve into each others’ hearts to discern why we act the way we do.
Sounds enticing, doesn’t it?
It’s never too late to start. But it begins with you.
Have you ever participated in an authentic community? How did it change you? I’d love for you to share about it with all of us.
Next week we’ll continue our discussion on The Invention Of Lying…
Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, Colorado with Eugene Scott. He’s still learning what it means to live authentically.
13 responses to “What Would Your World Be Like If Everyone Told The Truth?”
Jesus never lied because He was never afraid of anything. Anon
Nor was Jesus afraid of pain…because he was honest.
A very intriguing topic, but I doubt that the movie does it justice. I’m not sure either how well we really know ourselves, or how we would pick “which truth” of several options at any given moment might be “the” truth that is the challenge to be shared.
For example: my friend “(blank)”: I love her, she can drive me nuts, she’s a good person, she makes whack-a-doo decisions, I agree w/ her, I disagree w/ her, and on and on and on. I don’t see much of anything being that simple to evaluate,…even at so-called “face value.” And actually, I love God’s Word for the way it does simplify so many of the contradicting things we face!
As my friends and I can be quite chatty, I’ve had LOTS of opportunity to try to see and understand “what makes us & others tick” over the years. And I’ve reached only one conclusion — that we really don’t know the half of it! Lots of people “think” they’re doing (or should do) xyz because of abc, only to find out later that there’s been a whole lot of presuming, and/or ignorance, and/or subliminal stuff, and/or conditioning/brainwashing, and/or projection, and/or sin, and/or fear, and/or vanity and pride, and/or manipulation and control, suggestibility and greed, true and false guilt, personal woundedness and so on, going on.
It takes some real serious attempts at being honest with oneself, sorting out lies and falsehoods that we may have believed, study of healthy psychology and healthy spirituality (which should confirm one another), and prayer and God’s Word to bring ourselves closer to finding and identifying the true identity of who we are, who God has created us to be, because only then are we REALLY able to tell the truth. It’s a process that probably goes on for a lifetime — IF it is ever begun. Many get started on some earthly tangent or “automatic pilot” setting, and never get off, believing that’s it, “this is who I am,” I’m just a nasty person whose gonna do nasty things — and that might “seem” to them to be their personal, unalterable truth, but we know that such “truths” are conditional (and really even lies!) in comparison to the great potentials for change and healing available “in God.”
“Telling the truth” about our wounded flesh nature is part of a healing process, as is sharing of sufferings, doubts and questions, temptations and pride, etc.. Truth in exposing our needs as being understandably there (from results of the Fall), is not quite the same as claiming a “deficient” characteristic to be the “truth” of the “real me” — satan loves for us to identify ourselves with him, but I don’t think this is the wisest course.
Without God’s help, we are all helplessly broken — but with God’s help, healing and restoration are definitely “on the menu.” “Political correctness” and all such veils of generalized societal expectation and denial, which can be used to deflect deep and honest character evaluations, do not help the naked confrontation process, (of our brokenness and conditioned internal lies), which is actually necessary.
Truthfully exposing the “lying” patterns that have been programmed into our flesh will reveal and unroot “untruths” which have been trying to control us. Such a process — spiritually guided and yielded to God’s healing “Balm of Gilead” — can restore in us a place of greater Truth, that does confirm and align well with God’s Holy Word. You know it when you’ve found it. It’s worth the wait, the struggle, the pain, the search, the hope, the “price of admission.”
John 8:32 “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
Jeremiah 8:22 “Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then is not the health of the daughter of my people restored? [Because Zion no longer enjoyed the presence of the Great Physician!]”
1 Peter 2:24 “He personally bore our sins in His [own] body on the tree [as on an altar and offered Himself on it], that we might die (cease to exist) to sin and live to righteousness. By His wounds you have been healed.”
“There is a Balm in Gilead” (Christian song)
“There is balm in Gilead,
To make the wounded whole ;
There’s power enough in heaven,
To cure a sin-sick soul.”
“How lost was my condition
Till JESUS made me whole!
There is but one Physician
Can cure a sin–sick soul.”
just a note,…(I hope!)
I have been a part of some groups that were quite serious about self-discovery/self-revealing and healing. I learned a tremendous amount, and have to consider it all a great experience, but also feel confirmed in realizing the danger of humans to “hide” parts of themselves (not really being honest, perhaps even with themselves), and of some to posture as “experts” when they’re not, etc.. Most of these groups veered off in cultish veins. It is not good to be overly submissive to some willy-nilly “leader.” We should be able to retain some respect for ourselves and independence as well. Ultimately each person’s truth should lead them closer to God, His comfort, love, peace, clarity,…and be confirmed by His Word.
Being very conscientious about respecting the individuality and the integrity of free will in others, understanding that each person’s walk is completely unique unto themselves and God — their background, temperament, experience, pace and motivation — we can share with compassion the things we may find that we have in common, and also refrain from assuming that “we’re always going to know what’s better (or even possible) for someone else.”
In reality, each person must in the end “do their own work.” No one can “do” someone else’s spiritual growth for them:
Philippians 2:12 “Therefore, my dear ones, as you have always obeyed [my suggestions], so now, not only [with the enthusiasm you would show] in my presence but much more because I am absent, work out (cultivate, carry out to the goal, and fully complete) your own salvation with reverence and awe and trembling (self-distrust, with serious caution, tenderness of conscience, watchfulness against temptation, timidly shrinking from whatever might offend God and discredit the name of Christ)”.
Prayer, sharing, appropriate studies, referring to God’s Word, questions, suggestions can help us discover new ways to process “old” problems, and help get things “unstuck,” but the discovery, growth, and healing process itself is about as predictable as tending any growing garden, taking into consideration soil quality, weather, weeds, varmints, and other variables.
Instead of trying to force results, or pressurize with strong attitudes, having humility in the face of “obstacles” is a grace-inducing presence-of-mind stance to cultivate. Getting “out of the way” rather than “in the way” can allow a freedom and a space for mercy and effective intervention by the knowledge and power of the Holy Spirit, which is able to accomplish far more than our overly-efficient, “conscientious” (well-intentioned but limited), humanity-based programming.
They used to say: “Let go and let God” a lot. I guess that gives quite a bit of wiggle room for those who aren’t very serious to “go their own way.” Tending a garden seriously takes real work and attention: pulling weeds, cultivating, planting good seed, watering,…vigilance. Little by little, as we press in, waiting patiently (or not) for the harvest, we can find the satisfaction of having better and better results.
When we grant freedom to others to grow at their own pace, we also learn to grant this respect to ourselves as well. Sometimes the Spirit works in a very different manner than we by our own efforts are able to comprehend. Sometimes, just when we think we’ve completely given up, is when we finally turn around and stumble upon the answer!
Zechariah 4:6 “So he answered and said to me: ‘This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ Says the LORD of hosts.'”
some “cookies” were cleared from my computer, and this site didn’t seem to “know” me (as well as some others),…I’m hoping I can get my name back to “the usual,”…
“all’s well that ends well!”
But…what if all the “acceptance” is only because you’re The Pastor?
Not trying to be a buzz kill. Just asking. Because I think its a valid question, at least in my limited experience…
One “technique” that we often followed, was to try to simply observe (or watch) ourselves/our actions, words, attitudes, thoughts and behaviors, without judging. This was to be done over a long period of time, and the group would come together weekly/monthly to share their observations with one another. There was a level of focus and trust, and a level of purpose and exposure, that I don’t think would ever come about without intentionally committing oneself to such a “study.”
As it turns out, there was more purpose to this observational “exercise” than one could fathom at the beginning. I believe it has something to do with seeing that we consist of different levels of being, and that some levels seem to just function on an “automatic pilot” style of unconsciousness, while others feel more true to who we really are or at least wish to be. For example, perhaps catching oneself in a rather absurd moment of vanity, and realizing that there are other parts of ourself that think, “wow! what an idiot!” After a few bare bones experiences/confrontations like that, one is never quite the same. We become a little less identified with everything that happens and that we do, and begin to realize that we actually have greater ability to choose the quality of life that we wish to live. This is not an instamatic process, by the way.
The other thing I can say, is that “results” (according to my own observations) were as varied as the numbers of people involved. It often seemed as if a lot of “muddling around” was going on, and I can’t really say that was a bad thing, just a rather undefined thing. As far as I know, and as with other Bible study and prayer groups that I’ve participated in, it was good — even very good — for a season, and then eventually most everybody moved on to other phases of life’s involvements.
I would say, though, that if one gets very uncomfortable “warning signs” about a group or leader or program that could have a strong influence on our lives, it IS healthy to seriously consider whether this is a right situation for oneself. We can be like the blind leading the blind. There are some things that may become too invasive or chronically manipulative and demanding, even judgmental and negatively critical, and this will not help us find our freedom in God.
(Although, I have found myself saying more than once in my life: “sometimes you can learn just as much from a bad example as you might have from a good one.” Learning what to avoid or “not do” IS important too!)
Romans 8:28 “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”
Concerning “muddling around” and various bible study/prayer groups attended: the beauty and benefits of warm socializing and sharing, especially for those of us raising children at the time, with a sincere focus on learning and doing God’s Will, was about as wholesome stuff as you could find/create for the families to get together and provide happy/lively experiences for themselves and their children. Often people were from different churches. Our groups “became family” for each other. It was also an adventure, of life and of faith!
When changes would inevitably come for one reason or another, and we would feel sad, we would console ourselves with the saying that: “God sometimes divides in order to (plant seeds in new places and) multiply.”
More often than not, I think this is what has truly happened.
The following is appropriate:
1 Corinthians 3: [The Church and Its Leaders]
1 “Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly—mere infants in Christ. 2 I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. 3 You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere humans? 4 For when one says, ‘I follow Paul,’ and another, ‘I follow Apollos,’ are you not mere human beings?
5 “What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. 6 I PLANTED THE SEED, APOLLOS WATERED IT, BUT GOD HAS BEEN MAKING IT GROW. 7 So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but ONLY GOD, WHO MAKES THINGS GROW. 8 The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. 9 For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.
10 “By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. 11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. 14 If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. 15 If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.
16 “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? 17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple.
18 “Do not deceive yourselves. If any of you think you are wise by the standards of this age, you should become ‘fools’ so that you may become wise. 19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: ‘He catches the wise in their craftiness’; 20 and again, ‘The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile.’ 21 So then, no more boasting about human leaders! All things are yours, 22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, 23 and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God.”
Another thought/observation: for some of those who seemed to somehow not really make progress, or who got stuck or discouraged or diverted along the way, in spite of prayers and fellowship, we have to admit that we don’t always have the “answers” for each and everyone. The ones who, locally, have unfailingly “kept on keeping on” over the years, seem to have had a real “sold out to God” connection to their faith, and a very dedicated heart, mind and soul. Sometimes these “strong ones” have become very involved in ministering to and carrying along those who might be “weaker” or needy in some ways — just like a family. It’s good to know that God is the Lord of the Harvest.
And, p.s.,…the Truth about my “friend” with all the contradictory stuff going on?,…the Truth is: “God loves her, and she is who she is.” How that all works out is ultimately their business between them. I do my best to be a good friend, cheerleader and adviser, from the sidelines (where I belong!), and this helps to keep things in proper perspective.
p.p.s,…and of course, that works both ways! In our “uniqueness” as God’s individual and special creations, we will all need some tolerance from one another from time to time! (Just check out some of those Old Testament prophets!) Sometimes the “cookie cutter” pattern of being “good Christians” might seem to be “what’s going on,” but I think if you see deeper into the matter — (especially with people trying to be very committed to carrying out what they understand to be God’s particular leading for them in their lives) — that Christians can be very individualistic, and even perplexingly so. This is where the Word of God is very good reference material for basic principles which should ALWAYS be respected among the brethren, and then with these in place, variety can continue to be “the spice of life!”