“What is truth?” Pilate asked Jesus, moments before he proclaimed Jesus innocent but then condemned him to death nonetheless. It seems we are all more like Pilate than we care to admit. All of us possess some aspects of the truth, but we suppress it, ignore it, deny it, and act contrary to it. It’s the very thing that makes us into hypocrites, the very thing we hate in other people.
As I’ve been reflecting on 2020, the theme of suppressing the truth keeps emerging as I examine the warp and woof of everything that has happened this year. Suppressing the truth is the most stupid thing any of us can do, yet we can’t help ourselves. Suppressing the truth is like pushing down and compressing a giant spring from an old car. With great skill and effort we push down harder and harder as we pretend the recoil isn’t coming. Our collective view of the world is so short term, so myopic that it isn’t surprising that we have lost our way.
Other year-end posts may try and find some glimmer of positivity to land on which can be trite and patronizing. Not wanting to do that to you, I hope you’ll forgive me if my prophetic voice unapologetically deconstructs our foolishness. In order to finish on a better trajectory, I believe we need to rebuild our crumbling foundations. Let’s look at a few examples from this year which highlight my observations.
Politics: Each team, claiming to possess the truth, became more polarized, more embedded and trapped in one side of what we assume is a binary issue. The more we bought into our team’s ethos and ideology, the further we suppressed the truth which is wider, deeper, and bigger than our tribe’s colors. As we ignored the truth, evil expanded at the hands of both sides. Who lost the election? The American people did. In the sphere of politics, we have lost our humanity. By picking a side, we are lulled to sleep by the propaganda which feeds and validates our short-term choice. The whole time we think we are making progress, we suppress the truth that both sides are constantly keeping us from progressing in union with one another. We’ve lost the goal of “One Nation, Under God.” We are now tribal nations reining over a pantheon of deities.
Corona Virus: The Corona virus is real. All coronaviruses are real. Your view on the pandemic likely has a lot to do with your entrapment in politics. Yes the pandemic exists beyond our political realities, but it is yet another suppression of the truth to deny how politics is using this pandemic. It’s not as though one political side is suppressing the truth of science. Both sides are doing it. Science itself is suppressing the truth for political reasons. Every tribe claims to have the facts and each only has some of them. Decisions to lock down and devastate our economies are not based entirely in science, they are not altruistic and based in the care of people. We must think more critically. Do you really think the government cares for its people?
“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.” (Romans 1:18)
Religion: Beyond the headlines is the suppressing of the truth done by religion as it faces it’s largest generational decline in history. Millennials are not opting-in to any fundamental religion as a whole. As a church planter I was pointing out this immense shift over a decade ago and it became the impetus for me to take ministry online in 2011. The seeming inability for institutionalized religion to change means that it is suppressing the truth about the cultures it claims to serve. Tradition and regressive thinking has created a gap so large within the Christian faith that it actually obscures the gospel message of transformation from a world that desperately needs it. Jesus said that new wine requires new wineskins or both will be lost.
Family: The statistics are dire. This year saw a rise in domestic violence, suicide, depression, prescription drug use and stress within families. Attributing this to the lock downs is yet another suppression of the truth. The lockdown only exacerbated the fragility and brokenness which exists in our families. In like manner, the lockdown exacerbated all that is good in them too. A broken family can only be a by product of broken people. We all have our blind spots and areas where we need growth. The closing of our world gave us the time to look deeper into this and seek transformation, but the data indicates we suppressed the truth. Many or most of us did not do the soul work needed. We suppressed the truth and swept things under the rug and blamed our pain on anything but ourself.
Whether we look at the institutions of government, the global pandemic, our religions or our families, each remains guilty of suppressing the truth rather than actually dealing with it. Of course there are exceptions, and those are to be celebrated. I guess my hope in sharing all of this is to invite us all to stop this pernicious suppression of the truth as we begin 2021.
If the truth is painful…accept it. If the truth means you were wrong…own it. If the truth requires a change of attitude, behavior or life…change it. The most positive way to end a year where we suppress the truth is to finally be with it. Join it. Welcome it. Receive its consequences as well as its benevolence. May we start with the most interior aspects of our lives when we look at the truth of our own failures, weaknesses, insecurities, prideful ambitions, self inflated promotions, addictions, and corruptions.
As we stare into the truthful face in the mirror and reflect on the life we are constructing we may be tempted in our brutally honest self appraisals to go either too easy or too hard on ourselves. If this happens, we have once again suppressed the truth. You see, we are each far worse than we can possibly imagine while at the exact same time we are more beloved than we will ever comprehend. Debauched while precious. Perfectly broken. Or as Paul says:
“But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed…” (2 Corinthians 4:7-9)
Folks, this is the truth we must not suppress. When left to ourselves, we are not that powerful, but God within us is. If we open our minds and our lives to the treasure amidst us all, the world will begin its renewal right before our eyes.