Are we experiencing an epidemic of dishonesty? (I admit I watch more news than I should—that’s another story.) But even if you don’t tune in to the numerous cable news outlets you know it’s true. We have a problem with veracity these days from the corporate boardroom to the halls of state, to the classroom, to the bedroom, the truth is getting harder and harder to find.
Since the fall, the entire human race has struggled with prevarication, myself included. I told some whoppers from my earliest years, like when I told some kids my father was a Texas Ranger. But I’ve never been very good at convincing others when I stretch the truth. Now, a new study explains the possible connection between my bank account and my less than stellar ability to convince someone else of a non-reality—even when I want to.
A recent posting on msnbc.com entitled “People in power make better liars, study show,” uncovers a startling finding—dishonesty comes more easily to those at the top. Maybe that’s why many get to the top.
Now that’s a scary thought when you consider the choices lawmakers are making in Washington—and Beijing for that matter. And what does this mean for what’s left in our retirement funds invested in publicly traded companies? Even the MSN contributor recognizes the precarious situation this puts us in.
The issue of integrity is at the heart of the predicaments these powerful men find themselves in. An organization’s health often hinges on the trustworthiness of its leaders, ethics experts say.
I wish I could say this finding didn’t apply to Christians or even churches, but experience tells me otherwise. We all have a problem with the truth at times. And it hurts everyone, including the liar in the long run. It may get you to the top faster, but then the bottom can come at light speed. Ask Bernie Madoff, Jeffery Skilling, Bernie Ebbers, John Edwards, Martha Stewart, or Tiger Woods.
Thank goodness there is one place where truth prevails, God’s Kingdom. We have a God with a solid grasp on reality. And he never holds back the truth, unpleasing as it may sound to those of us who want to create our own reality.
My wife Kathy recently began blogging for AOL’s Parent Dish. She offers great information for Family Managers who want to make their home a great place to be. But, it’s not surprising that her editors ask her to give her blogs an economic twist. Not a bad idea at a time when everything else sounds trivial compared to the economic realities we experience daily.
The economy is even making it into the pulpit. And I say thankfully so. We need to hear what the Bible says about what we’re all thinking about. A friend send me a copy of John Piper’s sermon from February 1, 2009 entitled the same as this blog. I highly recommend it for anyone not wanting “to let a good crisis go the waste.” Here are “some” of reasons for this economic downturn according to Piper:
- He intends for this recession to expose hidden sin and so bring us to repentance and cleansing.
- He intends to wake us up to the constant and desperate condition of the developing world where there is always and only recession of the worst kind.
- He intends to relocate the roots of our joy in his grace rather than in our goods, in his mercy rather than our money, in his worth rather than our wealth.
- He intends to advance his saving mission in the world—the spread of the gospel and the growth of his church—precisely at a time when human resources are least able to support it. This is how he guards his glory.
- He intends for the church to care for its hurting members and to grow in the gift of love.
What do you think?
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Have you heard this old adage? “A person wrapped up in himself makes an pretty small package.” The same is not only true for persons, but for any organization as well, especially the church.
The day before the election Robert Geyer and David Ruper asked a jarring question. Robert is a business executive and David is a communication professional. They write about the intersection of faith and life at Red Letter Believers. Their question was simple:
“Is it possible that big government thrives because of a little church?”
I think they are onto something. It’s not little church size-wise though. It’s little church vision-wise that’s the problem. Could it be that as church leaders have gotten wrapped up in themselves, they have forgotten their mission to the world? Is it right to blame government when the church (we Christians) has neglected to do it’s job?
While those of us who mistrust “big government” contemplate what happened on November 4, it might be more productive to reconsider the impact of “little church,” and what we can do to be a little less wrapped up in ourselves for the next four years.
Read Red Letter Beleivers blog.
In this blog I’ll address the second Big Idea that can change the way we do church.
Big Idea Two: Evangelism is a process, not an event. As I examined both the Scripture and my own experience, I stum
bled on a fact largely ignored
by modern evangelistic methods: evangelism is not an event, but a journey that takes place over a course of time as a person makes a multitude of small, incremental decisions leading to faith in Jesus.
If I had intelligently read passages like Matthew 13 and 1 Corinthians 1, I would have seen this, but I took my cues from men and women who seemed to be ahead of me spiritually, and so I accepted their idea that evangelism is all about telling the message. In John 4, Jesus makes it clear that the “harvest” (a person coming to Christ) is dependent on the “cultivation” of the soil (preparation of the heart). What this means is that each time a Christian has an encounter with a non-Christian—whether we talk specifically about Christ or not—we are either drawing or repelling a person to Christ. Of course, God wants us to intentionally seek to draw them by both our words and actions. But most people today will need to develop a trusting relationship with the gospel messenger, before they accept the message. In fact, on average, nine to sixteen individuals help cultivate the soil of the heart and plant seeds of truth before a person finally decides to trust Christ. That’s why I define evangelism as not just telling the gospel message, but helping a person take the next step toward a relationship with Christ. This is not to reduce the importance of the message in any way. It needs to be told “clear and simple.” But the seed of truth needs to fall into a heart well cultivated in order for growth to occur.
So where do we find hearts that need cultivating and where can we be most successful in this organic type of evangelism? For most of us it is in the workplace. It is here as colleagues, clients, and customers discover whether the gospel is credible by watching us—words and actions. What would happen if churches equipped people to live the good news at work as well as tell the good news? What would happen if pastors began to realize that the words, thoughts, values, and actions of their congregation Monday through Saturday were more important to the Kingdom of God than what was said and done on Sunday? It would certainly change the way we do church.
These four Big Ideas are found in Going Public with your Faith
Thanks to Rae Allen for the image.
Posted in Church, Evangelism, Workplace Faith
Tagged 1 Corinthians, CHrist, Church, cultivation, faith in Jesus, harvest, Jesus, John, Matthew, organic evangelism, process