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Christian Credibility And Integrity


JenellYB
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From my own experience in daily life and interpersonal relationships, I am becoming ever more aware, and alert to, the casual use of lies in people's conversations, as well as in trying to figure out what is really going on in political and social issues of the day. What I have come to is that once I have detected that someone has demonstrated how casually they drop lies into their speech to provide supposed evidence, support, or even proof of their point or opinion or position in any matter, something within me withdraws, and a wall goes up, as I move into a postion of no longer being open to accepting anything else that person says on face value, or in trust of their honesty.

 

Does it really matter when it is just little lies in personal conversation, that really don't amount to much in the larger scheme of anything? In our personal credibility, even if it may seem not to in other ways, yes, I think it matters a great deal.

 

10 He that is FAITHFUL in that which is least is FAITHFUL also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.

11 If therefore ye have not been FAITHFUL in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?

12 And if ye have not been FAITHFUL in that which is another man's, who shall give you that which is your own?

13 No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

 

Just as we might rightfully assume that the person that steals our stash of toll-booth coins off the dash of our car or the power tool we left unattended under the carport would readily take advantage of any opportunity to steal our money or property of much greater value, I think it is reasonable to assume that someone that uses casual lie to win arguments or excuse other behaviors would as easily lie to us about really important matters.

 

Romans 3:5 But if our unrighteousness commend the righteousness of God, what shall we say? Is God unrighteous who taketh vengeance? (I speak as a man) 6 God forbid: for then how shall God judge the world?

7 For if the truth of God hath more abounded through my LIE unto his glory; why yet am I also judged as a sinner?

 

Christians that bemoan how Christianity and Christians are under such attack in our society would do well to consider what behaviors within the Christian community may be involved, that we might actually be able to try to address and do something about, rather than outside forces in society beyond our reach. I think this is the very idea presented through this from John's

revelation:

 

Rev. Ch 11:1 And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the TEMPLE of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein. 2 But the court which is without the TEMPLE leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months.

 

An element of concern for many in our society is the aparant increase of an insiduous casual acceptance of dishonesty, including such casual acceptance of lies as just how it is, and to be expected, everybody does it, so its no big deal, in every context from business and politics, to our most intimate inter-personal relationships, that pervades every area of our society, and our personal lives. Unfortunately, neither Christians as individuals nor within

the Church community seems much more immune to, or sometimes it can seem, even any more resistant of, this trend, than the general society at large.

 

One evidence of this trend that is readily noticable is how commonly people find it easy to drop lies into their speech, often to provide aparant support of a point they would hope to get across, reinforce the validity of their own opinions, or prove the validity of their position in an argument or issue. It is an ever present tactic in not only our casual private personal conversations and the political and commercial speech of our day, but within the speech of

Christians, even preachers and teachers within the church, as well as at the level of personal conversations, speaking in matters of religious faith and belief.

 

The natural consequences of this pervasive casual acceptance of dishonesty and lies within our society is that nobody can believe anything others say, and this is most definitely true when those they hear have already proven their casual readiness to use lies to put across or validate their points and personal opinions in their previous or present speech. If that person, and the message they had hoped to convey, are presented as being Christian, the trustworthiness and credibility of Christians in general and Christianity itself takes a hard blow.

 

The best definition of a lie I know of is simply this: If it isn't true, and its not an honest mistake, its a lie.

 

Fabulous stories about supposed miracles, the outworking of God's "justice"in the circumstances of some person's life, that disrespect and slander others, or even what are commonly called "glurges"-- the fairy tales, usually containing an element of super-sweetened sacharin, with a "moral of the story" form, usually intended to inspire, encourage, and edify faith are, no matter how pretty their costume that attempts to disguise them, LIES. And when they contain internal/external consistencies that reveal them as implausable at best and

impossible at worst, to any reasonable thinking person, the result is instant and total destruction of the teller's credibility and trustworthiness.

 

When they include elements that set a comparison and/or contrast that degrades anyone and/or exalts anyone, it becomes a lie of the nature of the serpent's tongue, a slander on one fork, a vain-glory on the other. Consider that the Greek "Diablos", translated in the New Testament as "The Devil", actually means slanderer, false accuser.

 

This same idea applies to what are commonly called "sermon illustrations" that a preacher may utilize within a sermon, to help make, support, or demonstate a point. And which also, incidently, any of his/her congregants hearing that sermon may well take out with them for use in their own personal conversations. If these were presented AS fabricated stories, parables,

or fables, within a clear moral-of-the-story frame, there might be some justification for their use. However, when presented as if true stories and actual accounts of events, they are a lie.

 

That studies relating moral behavior have yielded the uncomfortable results suggesting that the rate of moral misbehavior among Christians is as high as for the general population within our society indicate a direct connection to this problem of insiduous dishonesty that pervades even the church community. When any individual within the Christian community is being consistenly conditioned to and encouraged in the idea that no matter how my and other

Christians' behave or misbehave, its not as bad as what goes on among the non-Christian population, scoring a powerful winning blow by the "everbody does it" lie.

 

I posit that this casual use of lie in context presented here, that contributes to sterotypes that falsely and unfairly degrade others while exalting our image of ourselves within the converstion of the Christian community is a major contributor to this uncomfortable reality.

 

But what of that 'honest mistake clause' in the above definition of a lie? What if you really thought it was a true account of an actual incident? What if the one that told it to you, or contributed it to one of the online Christian websites offering pastoral resources claimed it to be true? What if you really didn't know it was a lie? There are two points in answer to this.

 

First, if, as mentioned above, you have done your preparation work, of verifying and documenting of any information contained within it, and subjected it to sound reasoning that would discern any internal or external inconsistencies that reveal it as a lie, then present it AS what it is, a passed along account or story, you've done your job.

 

Second, realize that the moment you preface such a "resource" with "I know", as in this happened to me, or I know this about a man I know, or I'm saying this happened to one of our fellow members in the church, whatever else may be true or not about it, becomes secondary to your own lie--that of "I know." Bluntly, you've just borne false witness.

 

Among the first and most important principles of effective rhetoric, whether in public speaking, preaching, writing, or journalism, is the critical importance of verification and documentation of every detail of information presented. It is always to be assumed that not only is one's own memory stores of information imperfect and unreliable, but that within any audience there is going to be someone that knows a lot more than you do about any and everything you may touch upon in your presentation.

 

Of course, this does not mean everyone will always know more about every thing you speak or write about, but it should be assumed that on any given topic, within any audience, there will be someone that does. This principle is expressed in the popular adage that while you can fool some of the people some of the time, you can't fool all of the people all of the time. Try to make sure you are not the one that is made the fool because someone else fooled you when you uncritically accepted a falsehood as if true.

 

Romans Ch 10:14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall

they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a PREACHER?

15 And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the

feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!

 

I lay this charge before any Christian that would preach or teach, whether through the pulpit, published written word, or personal example in his or her life and conversation with one's neighbor...Preacher, what say you? Truth, or something other? Are you the ambassador of Christ, which is truth? Or some other?

Jenell

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