Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things~ Philippians 4:8
We all believe lies sometimes.
For years my oldest was convinced that hotdogs were made from stray dogs. Schools still teach that most individuals during the Middle Ages believed the Earth was flat. Thomas Jefferson is understood by many to be the author of the U.S. constitution and kale is assumed to be the healthiest leafy green out there.
However, none of them are dangerous. My oldest missed out on a few years of eating nutritionally questionable food because of the lie she believed. Not exactly a huge problem. Everyone who should be offended by the flat-earth lie have been dead for centuries. Therefore that lie hurts no one and is more or less harmless.
Crediting Thomas Jefferson with writing the constitution could cost you the win on Jeopardy. It could also cause you to appear a little foolish if you happen to say it to a liberal reporter while running for President. However, believing it will not likely affect your life to any large degree. Buying the lie that kale is the most healthful leafy green available will not harm anything but your taste buds.
Other lies do matter, like the lies we tell ourselves and the lies politicians tell us. Those lies have the power to deceive and mislead. However the very worst lies are the spiritual lies Christians have bought into in recent years, including:
The answers to our problems are political –
Contrary to popular belief, our biggest problems are not economic, ecological, social, or political. Our real problems are pride, indifference, greed, hatred, bigotry, perversion, corruption, sexual immorality, hedonism and unbelief. Fixing the economy or electing a “strong leader” will not solve even one of those problems and could possibly make a few of them worse. Yearning for a human leader who will fix everything is a form of idolatry that inevitably leads to deception and oppression (1st Samuel 8). Only Jesus can solve the kind of problems we are grappling with and He’s not going to do anything until we repent. Repentance and the movement of God that always follows true repentance always begin with the family of God (1st Peter 4:17).
Sin is okay as long as I know Jesus –
Jesus died so that we could be transformed into infinitely better people, not to help us feel cozy and treasured in our sinful state. That said, Jesus needs our consent and cooperation to transform us into the holy people we are called to be. Willingly letting go of sinful habits and mindsets is the first step in spiritual transformation.
Bible study is a waste of time –
In recent years some prominent spiritual leaders have made statements intimating that Bible study is a waste of time. These leaders urge Christians to put their energy into “doing the work of the Kingdom,” “doing life with unbelievers,” “figuring out your mission” and “living what you already know” rather than waste time searching the Scriptures. I have zero issue with any of those endeavors. However, I do wonder how we will know exactly what constitutes doing the work of the Kingdom, figure out our mission or living what we know without some direction from God. The Bible is how we get direction from God. Biblical knowledge is also the only way to avoid being deceived spiritually in a world saturated in spiritual deception. Any leader who discourages Bible study is simply wrong.
Love is more important than truth –
For many years, truth was thought to be the highest value of Christianity and Christians were all about proclaiming truth, oftentimes at the expense of showing love. Recently the tables have turned and love has edged out truth as the most critical value. These days Christians are all about showing love, frequently at the expense of telling the truth. Balance is critical in this situation. Loving people without also telling them the truth about their spiritual condition quickly devolves into a sloppy sentimentalism that is powerless to save anyone from anything. Conversely, truth proclaimed without love and empathy has a harsh, even hateful edge that turns off the people who need it the most. We need to tell the truth, but it needs to be done in a loving and compassionate manner.
For years churches have struggled with effectiveness. I am convinced that our problem lies less with what the church has been doing and more in what the church has believed. We have believed that by employing human wisdom we can solve social and political problems, that sin in the church won’t affect our ability to reach the world and that spiritual truth is something squishy that should be shaped to entertain the audience we are speaking to.
It’s time we started telling the truth.