You Are a Liar
You lie to yourself, other people, and God on a daily basis. I do it, too. While I believe very much in the power of words, I believe much of what comes out of our mouths - or keyboards - is delusional double talk.
And we don't even know it.
I am the first to say I value my wife but you won't see my snide remarks to her when I'm tired. I tell myself that I pour myself out for my kids, but I've had fits of anger with them that I will forever remember with great regret and shame. My half-hearted prayers are often lip service and are not matched by my intentions.
This is what it means to be a hypocrite. This is what it means to be a sinful human.
I have been listening to lectures by a clinical psychologist named Jordan Peterson lately. What most interests me about Jordan's work is his take on the psychology of religion. While I must admit I often get lost in his arguments, much of what he says is a knuckle sandwich of truth.
Recently I saw a YouTube video entitled Jordan Peterson - Do You Believe in God? He hems and haws for a minute about the nature of the question, and then he says this:
"I act as if God exists."
This has troubled me because I often don't. And I don't think many people do.
The story of our lives consists primarily of what we do, not what we say. And a life of integrity is marked by doing what you say and saying what you do. No one is perfect at this, but it's a target worth aiming at.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus addresses this issue:
Everyone who then hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house upon the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it. (Matthew 7:24-27 ESV)
Now this seems rather clear, right? Do what Jesus says. And yes, it is clear, but it's a bit haunting if you consider the preceding verses where Jesus explains that on judgment day many will come to him with a list of their obedient actions and Jesus will reject them. They are doers of his word, but it won't be enough. Hmmm.
So we have established that we're hypocrites. We say one thing and do the opposite. We have established that Jesus commands us to be hearers and doers of his words. And finally, we have established that our deeds - those things done that could be considered 'doing his words' - are not enough to save our souls.
What do we make of this?
What I think Jesus meant by his emphasis on not merely hearing but doing his words is that our actions tend to show the nature of our hearts. However, sometimes our actions are tricky because we may be trying to earn our salvation or trying to fool someone. We are complex moral creatures and our wills are nearly impossible to sort out. I hope your head is spinning like mine. It feels like the ground is moving beneath me when I consider these truths and overlay them on my life. I'm not sure where to turn or how to make sure I'm living right when I start to question myself. And that brings me to my conclusion:
We need a savior.
We need Jesus because we need to fall back on a net of grace when our lives are marked with hypocrisy. We need Jesus because we need a light to follow in the dark times. We need Jesus because our souls are sick and he's our healer and redeemer. We need Jesus. I need Jesus.
So yeah, you're a liar. And you can't trust your own actions. But you can trust in Jesus, the savior of your soul and the guide on this confusing path called life. That much is clear.