From the time we start to talk, we begin to learn how to fudge, evade, or lie, especially when the truth could get us into trouble. As we get older, we may learn to lie for personal gain, to put ourselves in a better light, or even to commit fraud. We are surrounded by lies from Hollywood, the mall, the media, our politicians, and our neighbors. We hear you are not beautiful enough, smart enough or worthy enough. Eat this, and you will have the body you desire. Drink this, and you will be cool. It's someone else's fault. We hear the lies everywhere we turn and see people living out those lies. Lies bind us to our insecurities. They feed off of our fears. Lies are like monsters under our beds, whispering in our ears as we sleep until we start to believe the lies.
Even in the Garden of Eden, Adam stretched the truth to shift the blame to Eve. But God commands us not to lie. Jesus calls us to speak the truth. Still, being truthful is not always easy. How often do we fudge a bit when a friend asks, "How do I look?" What do we do when a little white lie might seem helpful or even more loving? On a much larger scale, who can blame those who risked their lives to hide Jews during the Holocaust or to help runaway slaves in America escape to freedom. Are there times when it is OK not to tell the truth?
Take the example of David and King Saul...
Many people think that for a rumor to be harmful, it must be negative. But David knew all too well that to be harmful, a rumor simply has to be untrue. After David killed Goliath, the Israelite soldiers were returning home. Women from the towns along the way ran out to greet King Saul with dancing and singing: "Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands" (I Samuel 18:7, NIV)). David, the hero who had killed the Philistine giant, was only a teenager. He had not killed thousands in battle, much less tens of thousands. Yet that rumor spread through the nation of Israel; and years before David go close to the throne, it poisoned Saul's heart against David.
Jesus reminds us that HE is the truth. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth. God shines a light into the darkness of the lies; and as we recognize the lies for what they are, we can be freed from our fears. Jesus shows us that the truth can free us from fear, hate, and insecurity. He reminds us that:
- Our neighbor is someone to love and by whom we can be love.
- The mall can't turn us into people who are loveable or loving.
- Justice is the way God works in the world - feeding the hungry, housing the homeless, and welcoming the refugee.
- We are all unique and beautiful people whom God loves.
- Forgiveness isn't a sign of weakness. It's a strength, a way of life.
- Be a truth teller.
- Be someone who questions the lies - commercials, shopping hype, magazine ads, politicians - and who confronts them with truth.
Prayer... Dear God, help me to know the difference between those who speak the truth in love and those who simply want to hurt me. Give me courage to hear the truth I need to hear and to offer that truth to others. Amen.