What do Alex Rodriguez and Roland Burris have in common?

What do Alex Rodriguez and Roland Burris have in common? They’re both in the headlines. Rodriguez—the superstar, multi-millionaire third baseman for the New York Yankees—is the youngest player to ever hit 500 homeruns and is considered one of the all time greats of baseball. Burris is the junior senator, appointed by disgraced former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich to fill Barak Obama’s senate seat. But both have made the headlines because of mounting charges of dishonesty—for Alex, lying about illegal injections of performance-enhancing drugs; for Roland, lying about fundraising contacts as quid pro quo for his appointment to the senate. Guilty? The courts will render that decision. But the fishy smell in our collective nostrils is a somber lesson regarding integrity.

In his celebrated Sermon on the Mount, Jesus put it plainly: “‘But let your “Yes” be “Yes,” and your “No,” “No.” For whatever is more than these is from the evil one’” (Matthew 5:37). I.e., equivocating, hedging, nuancing—“it depends on what you mean by ‘is’”—is contrary to the life Christ calls his followers to live. When you’re asked, let your simple, honest response be “Yes” or “No”—for anything else (how did Jesus put it?) is from the devil, who “‘when he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies’” (John 8:44 NIV).

Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, that little classic on the Sermon on the Mount, observes: “Everything that Christians do should be as transparent as the sunlight” (68). No cloudy obfuscation or shadowy truth-bending for the man, the woman who follows Jesus—rather an integrity and honesty “as transparent as the sunlight.” But what a refreshing burst of light such transparency is in our age of white-lied denials.

But is it easy to live such radical honesty? Read on: “Yet it is not a light or an easy thing to speak the exact truth.” Then what hope of honesty is there for the likes of shady you and me? “We cannot speak the truth unless our minds are continually guided by Him who is truth” (Ibid, emphasis supplied). No wonder the last generation of Christ’s followers on earth are described in two ways: “These are the ones that follow the Lamb wherever He goes . . . . and in their mouths was found no deceit” (Revelation 14:4, 5). Clearly, living a life without deceit is the fruit of a life that follows after Jesus. Every early morning, alone with the Savior, brooding over another gospel story, meditating on Him whose transparency and integrity can become ours, as “by beholding we become changed” we trust him to provide the divine power to change us from the inside out—isn’t that what it means to follow the Lamb in the third millennium?

Truth is, in a world hungry for new headlines and a new transparency, your friendship with Christ will be a welcome burst of sunlight.