Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Pretty Little Liars

 It is hard to believe that a man is telling the truth when you know that you would lie if you were in his place. - Henry Louis Mencken

Telling the truth is easy...right?   It's easy, at least when it doesn't cast a light on our guilt. But when telling the truth involves admission of guilt or shortcoming, there are few things harder to do.

All too often our painful past experiences tell us that admission of wrongdoing or/and failure of moral compliance leads to estrangement and judgement (and further estrangement and judgement).   So like a game of hide and seek we stow away our guiltiness that we might always be accepted by our friends and neighbors.

I don't care to belong to a club that accepts people like me as members. - Graucho Marx

Take our friends' three-year-old daughter, Caroline, for instance.    She woke up  a couple of days ago intent on delivering  an impossible, implausible story to her parents.   As she tells it someone sneaked into her room while she slept and poured water onto her bed.  When her father observed that it smelled like urine she countered, "I know, but it's water".

So convinced was Caroline of her innocence that she was willing to overlook evidence to the contrary in order to maintain it.  I find the same instinct at work in our little Maggie who lies with ease if her actions are the target of suspicion.  

If we were all given by magic the power to read each other's thoughts, I suppose the first effect would be to dissolve all friendships.  - Bertrand Russell

Even atheist Bertrand Russell understood something about humanity's proclivity to withhold the truth. Is it self-preservation or self-deception?  Ultimately, one always seems to  lead to the other.  In not telling the truth even when her heart tells her she's in error, Maggie is covering her tracks and convincing herself of her innocence.   She just doesn't want to suffer the consequences (self-preservation).   It's more natural to her than telling the truth.

As my daughter's steward it's my responsibility to lead her to the door of accountability that she won't continue to avoid culpability.   After all it's the consequences of her sin that will lead her sooner (prayerfully!) or later into God's objective reality and out of her subjective, self-absorbed reality (i.e. slavery to the self).

But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God. - John 3:21

By God's grace Caroline and Maggie will come to learn several things that will shape their hearts and mind to know and love Him who is her only hope of behaving with righteous intentions.  But first they must understand that all humanity is unable to walk in holiness without the gift of faith from the giver of all good gifts (Matt 7:11).  When children fail to obey their parents and love others as they love themselves it's up to parents to present a case for their child's guilt.

Jesus summed up humanity's responsibility before God in two commandments and in so doing set the bar unattainably high....

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'  All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” - Matt 22:26-40

I was a hard-headed, hard-hearted child (God Bless my parents!).  I grew up believing many false things about myself.  I believed, for instance, that all my motives were pure.  That is until the decisions rooted in those motives led to disastrous results relationally, professionally and emotionally.   In lying to myself and to others about who I really was, I was, to quote Tim Keller, "stealing from someone else their god-given right to reality".  I couldn't handle the truth so I remained a thief who stole the truth from others.

You can't handle the truth - Jack Nicholson, A Few Good Men

Into my high school years and through college my ego was far too fragile to handle the truth about my increasing bondage, addiction and helplessness.  I needed help from somewhere else to even accept the truth about who I was apart from God.

When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. - John 16:13

Consequently I was a fake.  I was Pinocchio.  The longer I concealed the truth (lied) about who I was, the more ridiculous I became.   My thievery of the truth about myself from the world around me had but one end: Death.

With lies you may get ahead in the world - but you can never go back. - Russian proverb

In some of his most stunning words, after He told His disciples that they would know the truth and the truth would set them free (John 8:32), Christ went on to explain that those who didn't believe Jesus' words had not been born again by the Spirit and were not "Children of God".....

It is because you cannot bear to hear my word.  You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires.  He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.  But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me. Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God." - John 8:43-47

In a similar way Jesus compared himself to a shepherd saying, "my sheep listen to my voice; I know them and they follow me" (John 10:27).   It's common knowledge that sheep are dumb and would be lost without their shepherd.   Their natural end is waywardness and death without the saving grace that is their shepherd watching over them.

Only the grace of God readied my heart to receive the word of forgiveness that God had spoken over me in Jesus.  Only then could I simultaneously weep over my sin and be comforted by God's unconditional love for me.

 Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more - Rom. 5:20

The truth about Jesus makes a way for us to revisit the roots of our guiltiness (original sin) and our inevitable resultant sin (actual sin) without fear of eternal consequences.   The Cross of Christ frees us to tell the truth about ourselves and be changed from liars to truth-tellers by His grace.   Though we be guilty, our guilt is not counted against us in light of Christ who suffered the death that all liars and thieves everywhere deserve.

Only the man who admits his poverty can share in Christ's riches, only the man who admits his ignorance can share in Christ's wisdom and only a man who recognizes he is a liar can share in Christ's truth.   May we pray for the faith to admit our weakness, ignorance and dishonesty.   That He may bring about His riches, wisdom and truth within us.



This Week 
* Wednesday Men's Group
Andrew Murray's Classic Humility - Chapters 3 & 4 tomorrow! 
@ 2 American Center, 5th Floor (Ritcheson Law Firm)

* The Magills - Lone Star Salute to Benefit The East Texas Crisis Center -  Thursday Sept. 15th at Bushman's Event Center - Bullard, TX 

* The Magills@ Meadow Baptist Church - Plano, TX - Sunday Morning 8am and 10:45am services - www.meadowsbaptist.org - 3001 Los Rios Boulevard, Plano, TX

Next Week...   
* Monday Men's Lunch - Dakota's 12pm - Wrap-up of Tim Keller's Kings Cross - discussion and prayer.

No comments:

Post a Comment