Perhaps the most fundamental challenge to living an authentic Christian life is rooting out our natural tendency toward deceit. In the moment, we always find it easier or more convenient to shade the truth. But when Jesus saw Nathanael, he declared Nathanael was “a true son of Israel” because there was nothing in him that was false.
If we are to be true sons and daughters of the Father, we must be people of integrity. We cannot be double-minded. We must mean what we say; our yes and no must mean yes and no. That doesn’t come naturally, but it is a family trait of those who have been reborn, to whom God has given the right to become his children.
We are drawn to deceit when our priority is getting what we want or keeping what we have. Jesus calls us to make God’s kingdom our first priority. (Matthew 6:33) Paul challenges us to set our hearts and minds on things above, instead of the “perishables,” like gold and silver, this world offers. (1 Peter 1:18)
Can you get your mind around a kingdom in which gold and silver are seen as perishable as milk and eggs? Like I said, it doesn’t come naturally, but it begins with people who are new creatures, in whom, like Nathanael, there is no guile. If we want to be authentic followers of Jesus, we must be people of integrity. The pursuit of God’s justice for a broken world requires us to turn our backs on deceit and stand apart from those who tell people what they want to hear, whatever will persuade people to give up their money — or their vote.
Live that way, and it won’t be long before you’ll know what Jesus was talking about when he said, “Don’t be surprised if the world hates you.” The world wants an easy, convenient interpretation; Jesus insists on inconvenient truth.