Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Truth and Lies. . .

I read it again after many years...  You may hurt me with truth but do not comfort me with lies. . .  The words are not easy but they truly do describe how God deals with us.  He refuses to tell us lies and He will not allow us to live with our own lies -- without challenge at least.  The truth is not always comforting.  It slices against the grain of the deceptions we foist upon ourselves in order to deaden the pain.  The lies of our self-sufficiency, of our independence, of our inherent goodness, of our freedom, of our right to happiness, and of the naturalness of death have become the comforting lies we find hard to give up.  In comparison with the truth of our weakness, our need, our sinfulness, our bondage to sin and its death, our contentment constantly tried by sorrow and struggle, and death as our enemy, the lies are surely easier to swallow.  Yet before we can find true and genuine comfort for our souls, we must meet the truth and face up to its hurt, disappointment, and pain.

The inclination of the heart since the fall is to live in the misery of the lies we tell to hide from the truth.  Even when the truth interferes with our self-deception, we have mastered the art of running away from the things we do not desire to admit about ourselves, the world in which we live, and the nature of this life.  The lost sheep do not beg to be found and the lost coin does not beseech the owner to look for it.  We have found a strange and disordered contentment within the shadows and lies we have told ourselves so often that we no longer remember they are untrue.  But God in His mercy refuses to let these lies stand unchallenged.

Despite the sheep being oblivious to its own vulnerability, God knows our weakness and He seeks us out to save us even when we are not sure we need saving.  Despite the success we have had at hiding away, God seeks out the lost coins of His treasured people and refuses to forget about them.  This truth cuts both ways -- it destroys the fragile deceptions our house of lies has built and it brings to bear the full force of His grace and mercy upon us before we know what hit us.

There are many things a pastor may be tempted by but the worst of them by far is to try to comfort with lies, half-truths, and pious platitudes instead of speaking the truth in love.  There was a day when Christians seemed more willing to hear the truth even when it was hard to hear instead of the lies and psychobabble that is easier on the ear but harder on the heart.  I know this temptation personally.  But even God's "no" is more merciful to hear than a "yes" backed only by lies and deception.  There is little excuse for those who use words only to wound and call it faithful preaching of the Law but there is even less excuse for those who speak lies that offer false comfort and call it faithfully speaking the Gospel.

We are at a grave juncture when we as a church will have to decide who we are.  Will we mirror back the lies the world loves to tell or will we speak the truth in love.  We do no one any favors by hiding the truth or substituting lies, deception, and empty words for the Gospel.  One thing the news ought to tell us (Mars Hill and the ongoing debacle there) is that the lies we tell always come back to haunt us but the truth will take care of itself.  Preach the Word. . . in season and out. . . the whole counsel of God's Word. . . with conviction. . . that is our only calling.  God give the people the heart of faith to not only to listen but to hear.

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