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A some-what popular and trendy phrase right now is “telling it like it is.”  There are many who see leaders who “tell it like it is” as a top character trait that they look for in leadership.  Having this as a top trait raises some serious questions.

Typically “telling it like it is” gets translates as being politically incorrect in one’s speech, supposedly in defense of the “truth.”  In reality, the people who “tell it like it is” use it as an excuse to be rude, crude, obnoxious, and inhumane.  In a word – it’s an excuse to be a jerk.

When did it become acceptable to treat people you don’t like or disagree with in a manner that is rude or with little respect?  I can’t pinpoint the exact time, but it preceded the 2016 election.  Maybe it is attached to the reality television and the desire for quick and cheap fame.  Maybe it is tied to the decline of Christendom.  Maybe it’s tied to social media and the easy ability for everyone to have a voice.  Maybe it’s none of these, or all of these.  But really, it needs to stop.  It’s unacceptable.

When did it become acceptable for conspiracy theories to be treated on the same level as the truth?  I recently saw something about the people think that the mass shootings are fake.  Yes, there are people who think these tragedies are staged, with actors, all to advance some kind of a partisan political agenda.  This has the same level of legitimacy as the Flat Earth Society – the people who are convinced that the earth is flat and that there is some kind of conspiracy to hide it.

When did it become acceptable to treat victims of tragedy with disrespect and call their pain into question?  Whether you agree with kids from Parkland High School or not doesn’t matter.  They are human beings who have gone through a tragedy – let them speak if that helps them cope with what they have been through.  Give them room to speak.

When did it become acceptable to be a jerk?  Especially in an age in which society is making a major push to clamp down on bullying in schools.  Yet we have “leaders” who draw attention to themselves and their narcissistic attitudes by “telling it like it is” with their cruel words that don’t point towards the truth, but rather the emptiness of their own soul.

Matthew 15:18 states: “But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this is what defiles.”

In other words, you shall know a person’s inner attitude and worldview based on the fruit of their words.  Just as a rotten piece of fruit would be thrown out as unhealthy, so should the words that sound like rot.

When “telling it like it is” become the dominant value, humanity and humility suffer and are held at knife or gun point.  We shouldn’t be surprised that the next step is  violence – from one group of people against another who don’t see the humanity in others because of the way they look, talk, think, live, or where they are from, or their sexual orientation.

We shouldn’t be surprised when “telling it like it is” produces a whole society of jerks who think that everyone has to listen to their rot and accept the way they treat people.

We shouldn’t be surprised that “telling it like it is” produces policies that promote Social Darwinism where only the strong survive and the weaker members of society are left to rot and die because they are in the way and they cost money.  We shouldn’t be surprised.

“Telling it like it is” – that’s what the temple leaders could have been described as doing when they said that it is better for one man to die on behalf of the people.  “Telling it like it is” – That’s what the lame and pathetic excuse the crowd hid behind when they shouted “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!”  “Telling it like it is” is just as deadly now as it was nearly 2000 years ago.

If you “tell it like it is,” you shouldn’t be surprised when you receive a negative response.  Nor should you whine and complain about your feelings getting hurt either.

Instead, maybe you should be surprised when followers of Christ actually carry out what they claim to believe – when they turn the other cheek, when they offer words of forgiveness, when they still love you regardless.  That doesn’t mean they are giving you a pass.  This is costly love – a love that stings the giver.  A love that allowed nails to be put into a wrist and feet.  A love that hung on a cross.  The words of this love produce life-giving fruit for all who hear them and take them in.  The words of this love give nourishment.

Let me be clear – “telling it like it is” killed Jesus.  “Telling it like it is” was the excuse that was used to openly mock Jesus as he hung on the cross.  “Telling it like it is” was the excuse given when the plot to kill Jesus was formed.  “Telling it like it is” was the excuse Rome used when it violently killed and destroyed anyone who got in its way.  “Telling it like it is” – this is the excuse that was used to demean and dehumanize others because of their skin color, religious belief, ideology, gender, family status, mental health, economic status, language, sexual orientation, physical ability, and anything else considered outside of the current definition of “normal.”  Good luck washing that blood off your hands if you insist on “telling it like it is.”

Go ahead and keep “telling it like it is” though.  Everyone will know what is in your heart – a bunch of rot.  But where is Christ, the one so many who “tell it like it is” claim to follow?