Calling Our Bluff

For Rob Ford, the mayor of Toronto, Canada, things were pretty good. He was getting away with it. But when the revelations of character flaws appeared through a few films on YouTube it didn’t take long for the accusations of ‘unfit for office’ to be heard. I’m sure it could have been worse. Make no mistake, it will become harder and harder for a person to hold public office with hidden secrets when so much of our lives are being digitally recorded.

Of course we all hide things. Things we don’t like. Things that we have done and we regret or insecurities that we hold. For some of us, our greatest fear is being found out. And to protect ourselves we develop a self-righteous, stoic resolve and we reject enquiry. We don’t point fingers, because we don’t want any to be pointing back at us. As The Killers put it in the track Sam’s Town, ‘I’m sick of all my judges, so scared of what they’ll find.’

For the last 2,000 years or so Christianity has found homes in the overwhelming majority of cultures and civilisations. Spanning across race, language, and location the message of a man from Galilee has touched billions of people. And in one sense, this is not surprising. Christianity properly describes the ‘human condition’. It’s not a culturally defined, human-created idea, but the truth. And that truth rests on this fact:

We’re all bluffing.

Way back at the beginning of the story we the see the Bible describe the temptation put before Adam and Eve. ‘You will be like God (Genesis 3:5).’ The lie is: we, on our own, can be God. We can be arbiter and judge. We can decide what’s right and wrong. We can live our own lives well under our own power just fine.

History shows us the same story again and again. It is the story of people trying to live life under their own steam, and failing

If a friend of yours has a drinking problem, or is cheating on his wife, do you leave him in his error? On the surface he may seem fine, the thin veneer of normalcy and civility stretched over a framework of lies and shame. But when you learn of his problem, as a friend, you step in.

In the same way, whilst we struggle trying to make it within our own strength, God, who we originally rebelled against, and continue to rebel against, is the one who lovingly points out our weakness.

Enter Jesus. God himself, in the form of a man, came to earth to call our bluff. His first teaching starts with, ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit (Matthew 5:3).’ In other words, the ones who realise that they don’t have what it takes – blessed are they. Jesus came that we might know that we’re bluffing. For some of us, yeah, we know we’re holding nothing, but others of us may not realise this yet. Maybe we’ve never realised this fact or maybe we’ve been kidding ourselves for so long that we actually believe we have pocket aces when really we actually have nothing at all.

Go ahead, take a look at your cards. Socrates said, ‘the unexamined life is not worth living.’ It is so incredibly easy today to add distraction upon distraction so that we never truly examine our life. Ask the big questions. Ask why the world is the way it is, why people are the way they are, what hope there is that may be found. Jesus was fond of questions – he asked them of many people. Enquire of yourself and then enquire of the world and look around for the answers.

I don’t know about Mayor Ford but sometimes when people are found out, though there are consequences to their actions, they are flooded with a deep sense of relief. They are relieved from the burden of having to live that lie any longer.

Jesus Christ offers explanation for the deep problems that we face. But he goes one step further than that; Jesus offers a solution and a real hope. To all who see him, accept him, and trust in him he grants to them deep peace and he offers them complete forgiveness. There’s no greater sense of relief on offer from any other source. Don’t bluff your way through life; the stakes are just too high. Be real with yourself and get real with God.