"I am a Golden Delicious Apple. This is my truth. This is my authentic self. If you suggest I am anything other than a Golden Delicious Apple, you are a blind bigot filled with hatred. You have no right to tell me who I am. In fact, you have no right to deny my very Appleness. You must affirm my tart sweetness. If you don't, you are a plague upon society. You hate Apples. You hate me. You must be punished."
Sounds strange, doesn't it? But, these are the times in which we live.
If I claimed, "I am an Apple," how would you go about proving or disproving my assertion? And, presuming you could martial sufficient evidence to convince society that I am not an Apple, would it nevertheless be acceptable or appropriate to capitulate to "my truth" that I am an Apple? Which, if you're thinking about this clearly, you might ask yourself, "What is the meaning of the phrase, 'my truth'?" Can something be true for one person, but untrue for another?
Put another way: can I say "I am an Apple," while you say, "No, you are not an Apple" ... and we both be right?
These questions are an exercise in logic, rationality, and critical thinking – three skills that have been tossed onto the garbage heap of 21st century America like ... well, like three rotten apples.
Human beings cannot flourish if they untether themselves from objective truth – in order to crown subjective feelings as their new and better truth. Truth is not new. Truth is, well, unchangeable. Attempts to substitute subjective feelings for objective facts does nothing ... except create Apple Sauce.
Jesus said that "part two" of the greatest commandment is to "Love your neighbor as yourself." So, am I loving my neighbor by affirming their truth, even if that truth is untrue? Is it loving for you to look me in the eye and say, "Dan, down to your sweet core, you are indeed a Golden Delicious Apple, and don't let anyone tell you otherwise!"? Is that love? Would you want someone to affirm your Appleness, so you could live your entire life convinced you're an Apple? Let's examine this orchard more closely ...
Upsetting the Apple Cart
What if my conviction – that my inner intuition convinces me I'm an Apple – meant that I engaged in the following behaviors ...
- I regularly dip myself in a tub of warm caramel, while wedging a four-foot tongue depressor down my back? You know ... in case someone wants a Costco-sized caramel apple?
- I climb Apple trees, then throw myself down upon anyone pondering the law of gravity.
- During the ripeness of Autumn, I peel the skin off my left arm, sever and slice it, and bake it into a pie? That's what you do with an apple, right? (My apologies for the gruesome picture, as this begins to resemble Jonathan Swift's, A Modest Proposal).
Would it be loving and compassionate of you to look the other way while I "live my truth"?
Today, many of our friends, family, and co-workers assert they are Apples ... but they are not. To say "you are not an Apple" will label you a bigot, a hater, and a fanatic. Ironically, the exact opposite is the case. To challenge an UnTruth is to Love someone. To affirm an UnTruth – or simply ignore it – is to hate him.
I say, "I am an Apple." You say, "No, Dan, you're not." Thank you for loving me enough to challenge my feelings. When you do, the words of Proverbs 25:11 are on display: "A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver." Your words are important. Consequential. Valuable.
The final question left for us who know Jesus – the One who declared Himself to be "The Truth" in John 14:6 – is, "Do I love my neighbor?"
How do you like them Apples?