Being an old-school guy, I still spend time listening to the radio when I’m driving. I’ve not yet made the switch to iPods or MP3 players – guess I’m still waiting for the next best thing to arrive. Kind of like going straight from the old 8-track tapes to CDs and skipping cassette tapes, even though that’s already an obsolete comparison.
Anyway, while scanning the radio recently, I happened upon a song that caught my ear. I don’t even know the artist who sang it, but the lyrics said, “Truth be told, the truth is rarely told.” Wow! Just eight words, but it’s a real mouthful.
There are lots of directions we could go with that thought, but it occurs to me that sadly, this happens even within the Church. Even when we’re not plagued with a global virus that prohibits, or at least inhibits, our assembling together. You would think as groups of admittedly flawed and fallen people gather to be reminded of the love, grace and mercy of God, we’d feel free to be transparent, even vulnerable with each other. Too often, this isn’t the case.
I rarely hear the term anymore, but years ago they used to have “come as you are” parties. Often spur of the moment, these involved invitees attending just as they were when the party was announced – wearing pajamas, bathrobes, or whatever. Maybe the downfall of come-as-you-are events was people deciding that no matter where they go, they’ll come any old way they want.
Imagine a church marquee announcing, “Come as you are!” with members of the congregation following up on that, welcoming visitors however they are, no facades or pretentions. Maybe some churches are like that, but they’re the exception, not the rule. Yes, it’s become more and more acceptable to ditch the ties and sport coats in favor of jeans, untucked shirts, shorts, sandals, even no shoes. But come as you are – on the inside?
A friend wrote a book called, Behind Our Sunday Smiles, its title derived from our inclination to display false expressions on Sunday mornings, even if we’ve had the argument of all arguments driving to church, or if our personal lives are crumbling. We reason, “If I tell them the truth when they ask, ‘How are you?’ they won’t like me - or won't want to hear it anyway.”
Instead of being able to confidently ask, “Can I be perfectly honest?” it’s as the song says, “Truth be told, the truth is rarely told.”
Which is sad, because Jesus Christ was particularly drawn to the come-as-you-are kind of folks:
- Matthew, the much-despised tax collector, who was viewed by his fellow Jews as a sellout to the Romans.
- The man with leprosy, a social pariah through no fault of his own, who approached Jesus and said, “If you are willing, you can make me clean” (Mark 1:40).
- The woman who for years had been plagued with a chronic bleeding problem (Mark 5:24-34).
- The paralyzed man whose friends carried him to Jesus on a mat, asking that he be healed (Luke 5:17-26).
- The Samaritan woman at the well whose disreputable past caused her rejection by other women in her town (John 4:4-26).
There were many others, but each of these saw something in Jesus that enabled them to let down their guard, to cast aside their shame, and approach Him just as they were. Why shouldn’t it be the same in today’s Church, which the Bible describes as the body of Christ (Ephesians 5:25-32, Colossians 1:24)? God never intended for the Church to be a showcase for spiritual giants, but a hospital for sinners desperately in search of healing and recovery.
Isn’t it about time that those outside the Church could no longer say, to borrow the phrase from the film, “A Few Good Men”: “You can’t handle the truth!” Because as Jesus declared, “I am the way and the truth and the life” (John 14:6). He also promised, “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32).
As His followers, we shouldn’t only be truth-seekers; we should also be truth-tellers, ones who encourage others to do the same.