Denial

Major Tom to Earth, “We have a problem.”

From the moment Adam and Eve bit into the forbidden juicy fruit – to the leaked Pandora files this week (suggesting some pretty lucrative financial dealings among the rich and famous) denial has been our deeply engrained response.

“I didn’t do it”, “fake news”, “conspiracy”, “the media”, ‘it’s all lies”.

It would be so refreshing for someone to step up the the plate and say, “I’m sorry, I am responsible (for whatever reason), please forgive me. I will make amends. I have an explanation but really no excuse. I was wrong. That is true.”

We are something to behold with our antics, gymnastics, and dance moves around the sound of truthfulness. Sequined in glittering denial we point fingers at others, stand on soap boxes demanding truth-finding special committees, and pontificate until the cows are home, milked, and asleep. What’s good for the goose is not so good for the gander. Denial is worse than Covid. It forms thick callouses on hearts, opaque shields on eyes, and distorts our hearing. It creates havoc in relationships, destroys integrity, is a cancer in politics, and annihilates trust. It grows in plain sight. Yet we seem incapable of standing up to it, identifying it’s presence, and combatting it’s poison ivy tendrils choking the beauty and essence of what it means to be human.

I once had some Japanese bamboo in the garden. I had no idea it was a scourge and would take root anywhere and everywhere. I cut it down and tossed it on a pile at the bottom of the garden. Before long bamboo was growing in thick clusters all over the place. The only solution was to spray leaves with a special weed-killer so that the antidote would be absorbed into the root system. It took repeated spraying over years to eventually eradicate the menace by relentlessly attacking the roots.

Denial flourishes alongside fear, pride, and self-interest; to name a few of its cronies. Where it buckles, crumbles, and dies, is in the light of truth that refuses to be intimidated or turn a blind eye (which truth does not have). Denial is shifty. It hatches deals under the table, greases palms, is generous with blame, and diverts attention given half a chance.

Truth stands firm. No excuses, no cover up, no accusing or looking elsewhere. It exposes what is – as what is. Without vindictiveness, judgement, or prejudice, it holds ‘what is’ up to the light.

Under the light of truth trust grows vibrant and strong. Faithfulness blossoms, fear and duplicity wither, unable to find sustenance for their parasitic roots.

The desire for truth should be second nature to followers of Jesus. He was the embodiment of truth and the greatest antidote for denial. It was he who spoke of truth setting captives free even when it nailed him to a cross. “Are you the Son of God?” Jesus could have denied the question for immediate convenience and relief. Instead he replied, “You say that I am.” “What is truth?” Pilate asked as he confronted Jesus while finding no cause to crucify him. But he denied what he discerned for fear of the crowd, Barabbas was freed and Jesus paid the price.

Truth is costly, inconvenient, and can ruin a life, a relationship, a friendship, or a career. But truth is resilient and will never be eradicated like my Japanese bamboo. Eventually it will surface and shine its light despite attempts to stamp it out.

Followers of Jesus need to return to the one whom they profess to follow. The times are desperate and the beat of his heart and drum is being drowned out by chanting and shouting that are not songs of praise. The best way for truth to germinate and grow is for each of us to take responsibility to nurture it from within.

David gave us an example when he prayed:

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. (Psalm 139: 23-24)

Paul demonstrated humility, the hallmark of a man refined by the light and truth of Jesus:

Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. (1 Timothy 1:15)

Of course all our perceptions and convictions about truth are limited by our finiteness. Therefore we understand that every claim we make for truth is qualified with the disclaimer: “As far as I know today.” While absolute truth exists our perception and understanding is never absolute, complete, or perfect. Even so, as with everything else in this broken world we are invited to follow Jesus and do the best we can.

Refusing to resort to denial for protection or justification calls for courage and a commitment to being authentic. That’s why Jesus declared from the outset that without him and the power his Spirit gives none of his followers can do anything for his kingdom. The truth is, we are still uncomfortable with transparency, struggle, imperfection, and being a work in process.

I believe with all my heart that if the world is to be impacted by the salt and light of Jesus then his followers need to stop pointing fingers at each other, and the world out there, and begin to search for truth within themselves. Remember when Jesus spoke about the woman who washed his feet with her tears in gratitude for him seeing her and not condemning her? He said, “She who is forgiven much will love much.” The fruit of those who know forgiveness and grace would be irresistibly attractive. Millions of starving people will be attracted to what they taste and see in lives filled with integrity, humility, and grace overflowing for all. No denying that!

Surely if we face the disgrace honestly we enter into true grace even more profoundly?

In a time of universal deceit – telling the truth is a revolutionary act. (Unknown source)

Here’s a song about Truth I’ve used before. Worth another listen 🙂

John Cox

Christian Author and Counsellor

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