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Every Man A Liar: Finding Authenticity In An Artificial World

One of the greatest tragedies in our postmodern world is the lack of transparency, truthfulness, and humility. We live in a culture full of pompous self-admiration, fabricated personality, and synthetic relationships. No one is completely honest about who they are, which makes it difficult for us to be fully human in our relationships and in our pursuits.

My acting coach, Lon Bumgarner, used to say (paraphrasing), “In the real world we are all lying and hiding our true emotions. As an actor, to be truly present in a scene, you must cast aside any falsehood and fully embrace truthful emotion and desire.” I never knew I’d learn so much about the state of humanity in an acting studio, but it was one of the most genuine lessons I’ve been taught in a classroom.

Don’t consider yourself a liar? Well, you just lied to yourself. We all pretend, we all parade a false image of our true selves, and we are all in danger of having many friends while being truly unknown.

“A man is never more truthful than when he acknowledges himself a liar.” – Mark Twain

The Scriptures remind us that we have not only lied to each other, but we have also lied to God, as if we can hide our sin from the God who knows everything. We are all frauds, desperately in need of truth and disastrously self-destructing in our falsehood.

The following text from Romans is long, but I think it speaks the truth more beautifully than I could ever attempt:

“So where does that put us? Do we Jews get a better break than the others? Not really. Basically, all of us, whether insiders or outsiders, start out in identical conditions, which is to say that we all start out as sinners. Scripture leaves no doubt about it: There’s nobody living right, not even one, nobody who knows the score, nobody alert for God. They’ve all taken the wrong turn; they’ve all wandered down blind alleys. No one’s living right; I can’t find a single one. Their throats are gaping graves, their tongues slick as mudslides. Every word they speak is tinged with poison. They open their mouths and pollute the air. They race for the honor of sinner-of-the-year, litter the land with heartbreak and ruin, Don’t know the first thing about living with others. They never give God the time of day. This makes it clear, doesn’t it, that whatever is written in these Scriptures is not what God says about others but to us to whom these Scriptures were addressed in the first place! And it’s clear enough, isn’t it, that we’re sinners, every one of us, in the same sinking boat with everybody else? Our involvement with God’s revelation doesn’t put us right with God. What it does is force us to face our complicity in everyone else’s sin.” – Romans 3:9-20 MSG 

Mark Twain was right: when we admit that we’re a liar (in this case, particularly to God) we find healing. Only in seeking the truth will we find it; nothing good has come from a lie. Temporary pleasure, maybe, but nothing that didn’t leave us drowning in regret.

Jesus asked us to turn to Him to find life, but that requires us to deny that we can make it on our own. Humanity has always bought into the lie that we don’t need God, until, of course, we face the tragedies of a broken world. Suddenly, God seems distant, responsible for our pain, and negligent of our needs. Until we admit our falsehood and pursue the truth found in Christ, we will never truly life an authentic life.

Do we not crave in our souls the expression of truth?

Have we not hidden our true selves in the background of lies and false pretense?

Stop lying to yourself, God, and others; start living in truth.