A lack of honesty hinders our walk with Jesus. It’s hard to read the Gospels and miss the importance of being brutally truthful about our own motivations and actions. Jesus teaches that it is dangerous to put on false appearances in the interest of appearing holy or respectable. It’s a lesson we all need whether we are dealing with an addiction, rebuilding a life after prison, or living in suburban success and respectability.
In Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, he teaches in Matthew 5:37 that we should let our “Yes be yes, and our no be no.” This seems simple but yet is oh so hard. If we honestly analyze our own actions, how often do we appeals to an external factor to cover up the truth. We may increasingly live in a culture where we don’t swear to God to make a point unless it is a negative one. But we all have subtle methods we employ to hide what’s really going on.
With the urban poor, addiction often lurks below the surface. One drink or one illicit smoke spirals uncontrollably into broken families and broken lives. Yet, a desire to hide the truth results in denial, in assurances that everything is ok. I’m in control of my life. As Jesus teaches, a real breakthrough only comes through brokenness and honesty…arriving at that point where everything is not ok and reaching out for help.
But that is the gift. The greater evil is the aura of respectability. How many individuals have the good job, the nice house, the 2.3 kids, and pull into their garage every night to lower the door on the intense brokenness that resides in their life. Maybe it’s a terrible relationship with a spouse or a long-simmering hatred of a parent. Or as happens too often today, an addiction to money, sex or power. But the greater evil is being in a place where one can’t cry out for help.
As followers of Christ, we need to shed light on our own lives with trusted friends in our community of faith. We need to seek out help in order to experience peace and wholeness. But then, instead of just resting in that peace, we need to build relationships with the community at large, offering others a chance to get real and experience God’s shalom.