Friday, April 01, 2011

Get Real, Get Right with Me

Everyone is looking for authenticity. The presumption of our quest is we want to know what is real (isn't that telling? Nobody takes things at "face value" anymore--hey, what's really going on here?). We will not suffer from illusions. We will not tolerate lies. We need to see what is real to know what is right, what is true, what is genuine. The problem is we're all troubled by what we see. One man's trouble is another woman's misperception. One woman's reality is another man's nightmare. What is evident to one is obscure to another. What passes for humor is tragic to someone else. So, we'll argue over what is right, what is real, what is wrong, what is false--all the while assuming perceptions are universally shared.

In this social tug-of-war, the underlying assumption of all arguments is to get the "other" to see things like you do. In fact, that is the immediate reaction of those who are perpetually frustrated by "bad communication." When they don't get it, we can't help but wonder: what's wrong with them? Why don't they understand? Why are they being so stubborn? Getting your opponent to see things like you do is half the battle for truth. Deciding who is right, however, is a completely different war.

We all want to believe God is on our side. Even more than that, we all want to believe God agrees with us, thinks like us, sees the world like we do. After all, God is always on the side of right. Yet, Sufjan seems to have a sneaky suspicion that such a divine perspective fools no one but the fool who believes it. A prophet may shout: "it's time to get real and get right with the Lord." But, no one listens to him. What he says may be true--don't we all need to get real and get right? The problem is we can't stand hearing the message, knowing it comes from a mad man whose volcanic eruptions look more like evil than good.

But, are we fooling ourselves just the same? "That can't be the voice of God because I know He wouldn't sound like that." Then, we erupt with our own frustrations of a world gone mad, an injustice that knows no bounds, a love that grows cold, a faithfulness that never endures. The fires that burn within our souls may even lead to paths of destruction, where we win the war of words but still have this aching doubt: who is right? Maybe it's not as simple as "who's right and who's wrong," who wins and who loses.

In the war of truth, maybe we're our worst enemy.