A truth-teller has a critical role in the family, the historian of events, the keeper of stories. Reminding others of the progression of actions which led up to the big celebration or catastrophe is a big job, but of equal importance is the role of the listener. Without the ones who hear, the truth wanders out and about, wasted maybe, wisps of smoke floating away. Truth-tellers depend on listeners to accept their offerings, to soak in the stories and become their own truth-tellers. What happens when listeners are robbed of the chance to hear? What becomes of the village when raided by false story tellers who spread lies like wild fires, burning not only bridges but charring all the inhabitants? What turns listeners away from the truth, what encourages them to follow a false prophet? Discounting hard evidence to believe a lie takes effort, requires a conscious turning. But why? I learned long ago to ask what is to be gained to find my answers to any set of behaviors.
If I am an addict and I need you to believe that my use is behind me, I can follow the charted course of those who live that life. I can practice honesty, humility, follow the tried and true steps of atoning and staying abstinent. What I cannot do is use a different substance and call myself clean, I cannot behave as if I am owed everything while giving nothing. Typical using behaviors that aren’t ignored by truth-tellers. But what if I want you to believe my version of the truth? What will it cost? Do I have to accept the lies you also tell? Stories of happiness that hide dangerous secrets, stories of bliss that cover mental illness? The lies that bind that village will ultimately burn it down, pillaged by the very distrust inherent in the creation. The Bible talks about building houses that way:
24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.” Matthew 7:24-27
I built my house on truth and it is costly. I was never promised an easy life, surely haven’t experienced it. Yet I know my little village is safe from marauders who seek to destroy it. No longer enslaved by shame, no longer at the mercy of false story tellers, I shout my truth and count on the listeners to hear. Or not. Because it is always a choice. We each get to build our house, invite in who we want. This is my house. My story. Pillagers are not welcome here. My home is protected, my heart is safe from those who would ransack, those who would spread shame, crashing into my home, uninvited invading intruding What’s that other verse?
“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32
Ah, yes, that one. The one that sheds light in the darkness, that restores the broken, that destroys the power of evil. Grace abounds in my village of brokenness, where light finds the truth and we are free. Glory be to God.