Perception is reality.
Lee Atwater, who was an advisor to the US Republican Party in the 1980s, lived by this mantra. He was a master of ‘negative politics’, hired by George HW Bush for the 1988 Presidential campaign, and helped to turn around a massive deficit to bring Bush Snr to the White House over the Democratic candidate Michael Dukakis. Through a series of ads, manipulation and lies, Dukakis was portrayed as an ineffective, unpatriotic racist.
Read more about Atwater here: http://edition.cnn.com/2016/03/17/opinions/zelizer-lee-atwater-trump/index.html
Forget the facts. If you can make people believe something is real, it is de facto fact.
- Donald Trump told people he was going to build a wall and get Mexico to pay for it.
- Bertie Ahern told Ireland that they’re all fools if we think the housing market is going to collapse.
- Jeremy Corbyn promised students in the UK, before the Election, that he’d deal with the £100bn of student debts. He’s since backtracked and said it was only ever an ambition.
- Facebook tells you have hundreds of friends.
- Celebrity culture shows you that there is a ‘better life’ for you if you can just become a star.
These are all falsehoods of varying degrees of size and importance; but they’re all offering a perception of what is true. They’re not offering truth in all its glory.
Never before has authenticity been more important than at this moment right now. Truth is important. Being genuine is important. Being real is important. Being honest is important.
Being authentic is important.
We live in the era of ‘Post-Truth’. We live in an era where appealing to emotions is more important than the facts. Trump won in the US because he simply made people afraid. The same with Brexit. “Keep those foreigners who would take our jobs and perpetrate terror attacks out.”
BBC broadcaster Evan Davis described it like this:
“…a willingness on the part of politicians to stretch the truth on a basic point of fact, and [sic] the predisposition of so many people to believe it despite the prevalence of reliable advice to the contrary”.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ gives us a wonderful opportunity to speak into an era where truth doesn’t seem to matter, and smack it in the face with eternal truth that can be found in our Lord and Saviour.
You are a child of God
You are loved
You are saved
Jesus Christ is Lord
Jesus is Saviour
Jesus will come back again
You will be with Him forever
These are the truths of the Christian faith. Unshakeable. Unmoveable. Always have been true and alwayss will be true.
When we talk about Jesus, we don’t talk about a perception of God. We don’t talk about a version of God. We don’t talk about simply another way to access God. We are talking about God – the one true God.
Truth goes further. Being authentic, and ‘true’ to others can also set us apart.
We can be a community that enocurages people to be themselves, moving towards who God has truly made them to be.
We can be a community of people who don’t need to put up facades, masks, or project a false perception of ourselves because we want to ‘look good’. God is good. God loves us. And so we can be real. Let’s be a community that celebrates authenticity, celebrates real conversation, celebrates working out real issues facing the Church and one another and celebrates the truth that Jesus is ‘before all things, and in him all things hold together (Colossians 3:17 – my favourite verse!).
Let’s be a community that celebrates loving people – not just saying we love them, but actually, really loving them.
Society surrounds us with far too much that isn’t authentic.
We don’t need to settle for it. Authenticity is available to us through Jesus.
And it just might change the world.
1 Timothy 1:5 – But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.