A news bulletin has just been published regarding a barrister lying to the police in a case they were investigating.
And it brings up the question of the relationship we have to the truth. Is speaking truthfully something which we are passionate about, is it something which is our normal practice or is it a tactical choice depending on the situation we are in.
I still remember the shock of being told – many years ago – by a colleague that he was planning to lie to our customer in the meeting we were just going into. He felt it would produce the best result and that was all he was interested in.
We see many instances of lying in many different forms:
- children to stop themselves getting into trouble
- friends to avoid being embarrassed over some action they are now ashamed of
- company representatives to try and get an advantage over a competitor
- advertising statements which mislead or misrepresent in order to attract
- politicians as they seek to defend a particular position
- criminals trying to avoid conviction
- partners to keep secrets from those they love
- parents to their children as it is sometimes easier than telling the truth
We tell ourselves that it is socially acceptable and understood, we comfort ourselves with the idea of a “white lie” but what do we lose in the process?
When Jesus was talking to his followers about whether it was right to take an oath he challenged people with these words:
Let your word by “Yes, Yes” or “No, No”
There is a sense here of reliability, of confidence, of trust in what someone is saying. If we know someone who consistently means what he / she says and speaks the truth then we are more likely to believe them and our relationship can be strengthened as it is built on solid foundations.
Jesus said of himself:
I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6b)
Jesus was the way to God because he was the truth of God and the life of God – and he came to impart these to his followers.
When Jesus was on trial before Pilate he spoke about the importance of truth and that he had come to proclaim it:
“You are a king, then!” said Pilate. Jesus answered, “You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” (John 18:37)
He acknowledged that he was a king, he also spoke about his reason for coming into the world was to testify about truth. The implication, surely, is that his kingdom, his realm, is one of truth.
The challenge here for Christians, for those who are seeking to live as citizens of his kingdom, is whether we are prepared to live “on the side of truth” in the big things and the small things of life.
What would it mean to us, what would it mean to our country, if we were more consistently prepared to do so?