So according to news reports we can now add New Orleans Saints Coach Sean Payton to the growing list of people in sports, religion and politics who have recently been caught lying. We certainly find ourselves navigating our faith in a culture of lies and liars. But the culture of untruth that we live in is not the biggest problem we face. Our greatest dilemma is that we lie as well.
Pamela Meyer in her 2010 book Liespotting sets out through various means of research to demonstrate that we are facing a pandemic of deception. She states that the average person is lied to between 10 and 200 times a day. She says of the average married couple that “you’re going to lie to your spouse in one out of every 10 interactions.” (Meyer's TED talk summarizing her findings can be viewed here.)
In our recent study of Abraham’s faith we spent some time in Genesis 18. In shocking absurdity (most lies gain that description after the fact) as recorded in verse 15, Sarah lies to the Lord. In a seemingly senseless hush, you can almost feel the painful awkwardness of the Lord’s loving response, ‘No, but you did laugh.’
Pamela Meyer could have been writing about Sarah when she gives this explanation for why we sometimes lie: “Lying is an attempt to bridge a gap, to connect our wishes and our fantasies, about who we wish we were, how we could be, with what we’re really like.”
Sarah, like us in many cases, was afraid of what she was really like. She wished for a reality that was only achievable by various props and assertions. This understanding of both lying and us is incredibly helpful. How is it that we can be absolutely truthful with others and God even when the truth about us is quite disappointing? Sarah needed a bigger reason to be truthful than she had to lie. That reason is the love of God manifested to us in Christ.
Living a truth-speaking life and developing a truth-in-love culture is our privilege because of the calling on our lives of God’s great love. God loves us. Christ delivers that love into our lives by dwelling in our hearts. The Holy Spirit spreads and sheds that love all over the landscape of our lives as we live by faith.
Because of God’s great love, Kossuth Street church in our meetings, relationships, marriages, friendships, families and ministries should be a place where we are able to look at each other and say the truth—“Yes, I did laugh,” or “Yes, I am afraid,” or “Yes, I do need grace.”
Ephesians 4:15-16, 25 teaches that we bridge the gap between what we are and what we want to be in Christ by telling the truth...in love...when it is hard...even when it is self-incriminating. Truth builds the body when the grace of Christ is applied to truth telling people. I thank God for the truth tellers and truth culture he is building at KSBC.