Thursday, March 10, 2005

Lies, truth and faith...

Why do people lie? Some do it for selfish gain. Others, for malicious intent. And then, there are some who so call lie to "prevent" more bad things from happening. I recall the movie, "A Few Good Men", and there was this scene when Tom Cruise was questioning Jack Nicholson in court. The situation had become intense and Tom Cruise shouted "I want the truth!!" with Jack Nicholson shouting back "You can't handle the truth!!". How bout us? Can we handle the truth?

During my college years, I had a philosophy lecturer by the name of "Eddy". I can't remember his full name, but he played a big role in the way I think. I guess I started to look at the world differently since his course. Thanks to him, I'm also very into philosophy. There was one particular example that he gave that I remembered well. It was during an discussion on ethics, whether good and evil was subjective. Coming from a Christian viewpoint, I stood firm that good and evil was objective, that everything that God called good is good, and everything that God called evil is evil. Then he threw this question out. He said, what if one day, a gang of robbers came into your home, tied your whole family up, and ransacked your whole house. Then one of them asked, "I know you have a sister here somewhere, I want to know where she is". Obviously, him asking the question meant he was planning to harm her in some way. And lets also say that you knew where your sister was hiding... would you lie to the robber, stating that you didn't know, or, would you tell the truth, because it was your principle? The lesson on the "lesser of two evils" was introduced to me on that day. I couldn't answer that question, and begin to have thoughts that to some extent, the bible is not really that practical. Years passed by, and I'm in the U.S. continuing my course. Then one day, I had a similar discussion with Tayo, my good Nigerian comrade. He insisted that God's truth is absolute, so recalling that example by Eddy, I threw it at him. I asked him, "which would you choose Tayo?" And without even thinking twice, Tayo replied "I'll pray!". Gosh... I've never even thought about that. I never knew there was a third option. It was from that day on that I knew the truths in the bible are real. And it's applicable even for our modern day world.

I've seen from time to time how many people lie to get themselves out of "sticky" situations. As long as they don't get caught, the situation is managable. However, I think that from a Christian viewpoint, lying shows a lack of faith in God. It's because we don't trust that God is in control of the situation, so we decide to take the situation in our own hands. There are many references in the bible where it exhorts us to live a life of truth. Here are some examples:

"You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor" - Deut 5:20 (NIV)

"Do not steal. Do not lie. Do not deceive one another" - Lev 19:11 (NIV)

"Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices"- Col 3:9 (NIV)

And this is the reason why God insists that we live on the truth:
"God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?" - Num 23:19 (NIV)

I'm convinced that we should a life of truth. Don't get me wrong... I also believe in confidentiality. However, I'm deciding to draw the line of telling the truth, or surpressing it based on God's instruction to me. What I mean by this is that I'm not obligated to respond to every enquiry that's thrown unto me, rather i'm planning to respond by saying "I'd rather not discuss that", than making up some other story to get myself off the hook. Also, there's a need for me to live a life where I do not get myself involved in "unhealthy chatting", ie. gossip, and not only avoid it, but discourage it. People will then find me less "appealing" to approach to know about such things. Thus, it's more than just "not lying", but it's a lifestyle that actively pursues truth and righteousness. And when there are situations that are beyond my comprehension, and I'm not sure how to react, that's when I'll leave it to God to tell me what to do. However, in order to be able to know God's leading, I would have to live a life of prayer. Thus, I see that living a life of truth emcompasses a huge portion of our lives. We have to deal with every single area. Lastly, we need to be accountable, that is, there are people that we turn to to keep ourselves checked. It's critical that we have people that we've entrusted to question us when we're out of line.

"I'll pray." What a simple yet profound idea. It's like when the world is going into chaos, and people are all in the panic state, and someone turns to us and ask "What shall we do? We're all doomed!!" And we simply look at them, with eyes that are filled with a peace that's beyond our understanding, and reply "Let's pray". Therefore, faith comes into rescue, not so much as to keep us from breaking our principles, but rather, to remind us that God is in control. We do not need to take things into our own hands. Awesome!

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