"The Truth is Never Sexy"

"So it’s not an easy sell." These are two lines from the song “Nobody Loves Me” by Derek Webb. Sometimes, when I’m shocked by the latest idea that so many people are buying, I remember these words. So much of what is marketed as Christian literature reminds me of the airbrushed, digitally doctored, duct-taped cover models. The truth isn’t good enough, so it gets a new spin. And then it sells. But is it still truth? Christians are responsible to be discerning readers, to separate the truth from the lie. Unfortunately, it is in our own genre that this is most needed. And yet, discernment is just as unappealing as the truth it stands up for. It seems that we have entered an era of Pinterest Christianity. We can take a Bible verse and paint it on stair risers. We can build super-cute baptismals with dramatic sandbag candle effect. We can distract from our potentially offensive doctrines with our own homemade remedy and market it in a trendy mason jar. We can take an Old Testament prophet and turn him into a poster boy for a pretty great diet plan. We’ve become brilliant at taking the old and making it new again. We unleash the ordinary with sparkling promise that goes viral. And the followers are giddy with their new revelation. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not knocking Pinterest down. I happen to love it. But I’m hoping that we don’t take this whimsical approach with our theology. We need to love God’s truth for what it is---all of it. Because he is good. It reminds me of a story that I was trained to tell when I would talk with youth groups as a volunteer for Care Net. I shared it in my chapter on discernment and Christian unity in Housewife Theologian:
One sunny afternoon, the Truth and the Lie decided to take a leisurely skinny-dip in the community lake. The Truth was lost in the moment, enjoying the crisp, cool water and harmony of the occasion. In fact, the Truth was enjoying himself so much that he did not notice the Lie stealing his clothes from the side of the lake. It wasn’t until the lie was fully dressed in the Truth’s clothes that the Truth became aware of this sinister act.
Immediately, the Truth began to yell at the Lie, “Give me back my clothes!” He rushed out of the lake, chasing the Lie into town. Every time the truth demanded his clothes back, the Lie would reply, “These are my clothes!” The truth was growing very intolerant as their scene was starting to draw a crowd of spectators. The ranting between the two remained the same: The Truth demanding his clothes back, and the Lie insisting they were his own. The large crowd of people watching were left with a decision: did they believe the Lie in Truth’s clothing, or the naked Truth? (93-94)
Some of the latest books and movements may have the Christian language, they may even have some important truths on display. But what is underneath all the layers of clothing? And are you willing to take a stand for the naked truth? It’s usually not the easy sell. Donald Macleod says something very important in the Forward to his book From Glory to Golgotha. He says, “I hope that while I still have much to learn, I don’t have too much to un-learn.” Me too. Be careful who you go swimming with.