Many years ago I flew across the country to not preach at a church that had invited me to speak at their morning service.
After leaving my hotel, I rode with a prominent Christian leader to the church. I knew this man had been accused by the media of misrepresenting certain key details on his résumé, so I asked him about the charges.
He admitted saying and writing some things that weren’t true—but it didn’t seem to bother him. I told him, calmly, that I thought he should repent and publicly ask forgiveness for his dishonesty. He said nothing and we rode to the church in silence.
A few minutes after we arrived, I was escorted to the office of the senior pastor, where we were scheduled to pray together before I preached in the service. When I stepped in, the pastor slammed the door behind me. I was surprised to see his face turning scarlet, his veins bulging. He poked his finger at me. “No way will I let you preach from my pulpit!” he thundered.
Then out of the corner of my eye, I saw the man I had just confronted. The pastor told me I’d had no right to question our brother’s integrity. The pastor was fully aware of the man’s reputation but thought it none of my business. We left the office, the pastor still seething.
As the service began, the pastor took the microphone, his voice now sweet and “spiritual.” He introduced the man I had confronted. This man conducted the offering, challenging the people to give generously. The pastor then addressed the church, telling them he felt “the Holy Spirit’s leading” to dedicate the service to sharing and healing. Therefore, regrettably, there wouldn’t be time to hear from the scheduled guest speaker—me.
On the long flight home, I marveled at how Christian leaders—who should be guardians of God’s truth—could have such a blatant disregard for truth.
This isn’t a new problem. “‘Do not let the prophets... deceive you. Do not listen to the dreams you encourage them to have. They are prophesying lies to you in my name. I have not sent them,’ declares the LORD” (Jeremiah 29:8–9).
You see, a speaker can be popular, a sermon can be greatly loved, a book can be a bestseller in Christian bookstores—and still be full of lies.
I do not intend the preceding story to reflect poorly on pastors. Most pastors I know are men of honesty and integrity. I tell the story as an illustration that the Christian community isn’t immune to the dishonesty that plagues the world.
As followers of Christ, we are to walk in the truth (3 John 3), love the truth and believe the truth (2 Thessalonians 2:10,12). We are to speak the truth, in contrast to “the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming” (Ephesians 4:14). We’re to speak the truth “in love” (Ephesians 4:32).
When we fail to tell the truth, we fail to represent Jesus, who is the Truth.