Three lies we love to tell ourselves.
I hope January 6, 2021, is a day that will live on in our national memory for a very long time. But I’m not confident that it will. I know it will for me, though.
As I was watching the incredible events at the Capital unfold, I was struck as much by the heinous events themselves as I was by my thoughts of how a “civil society” could become as disordered as we’ve have over the past year, and really over the past twenty or so. It’s just unbelievable, I thought.
And that was it. It’s unbelievable. Unbelievable because we have taken to believing certain things are just aren’t true. We believe them because they make us feel good. Not because they are true. They are lies.
One lie in particular was heard dozens of times throughout the reporting last night. It was repeated by nearly every congressman and political commentator that came on air, and it’s the first lie we love to tell ourself:
We are better than this.
The fact is we’re not better than this. This is exactly who we are.
When we say this, it is our pride and arrogance speaking, nothing more. It’s not confidence. It’s not positive thinking. And it’s not the truth. The truth is we’re fallen creatures, and our healing will come only when we display the humility to admit it.
For 500 years, except for very brief epochs, we have forsaken all that is transcendently good, beautiful, and true. In doing so we’ve forsaken God himself, who gave us everything. He even gave us dominion over things. Maybe that’s where we went wrong — believing that it was ours to abuse.
The second lie is that God, if He’s truly a good and loving God, would never allow evil to prevail or even let it happen.
As loving parents, we would do anything within our power to help our kids. But once they come of age, we can’t keep them from making mistakes or bad decisions — intentional or unintentional. They are responsible for their own actions.
This past year, we have all been given a gift similar to what was given to George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life. It’s been the gift of seeing how a society would conduct itself if it no longer held the promises of a loving God as real and true — and most importantly knowable. It hasn’t been pretty, has it?
Unfortunately, God does allow us to wander off his chosen path for us. And He leaves it up to us to figure out how find our way back. Fortunately, he provides very clear directions on how to do just that. Mark Twain reportedly said late in his life that there were a lot of things in the Bible he did not understand which he didn’t particularly worry about. But there were other things in it that were abundantly clear which he most certainly did worry about.
We need to once again humble ourselves, as a nation, a church, and a citizenry — and pray. That much is abundantly clear to me.
Time and time again, we fall and He forgives. His way is the way of the just. His way is mercy. His way is spirit and truth. We must hope in His promises, not our own.
Then…then will we hear from heaven. (2 Chronicles 7:13–15)
The third lie (and probably the worst) is that “those guys over there” are the bad guys. “They” are the problem.
It would be so easy if that were true.
But the truth is that we also can be the bad guys. The real war between good and evil does not lie “out there” somewhere, but cuts, as Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn said, right through the human heart.
In John’s first letter, he repeatedly cautions us about the darkness in our own heart and to rely on Him in whom there is no darkness at all. And in that very short letter, he addresses us as “little children” no less than 10 times!
My 16-year-old son tells me I repeat stuff to him too often. My response to him is, “well, when you stop acting like a little kid and understand, I’ll stop.”
I don’t particularly like being being addressed as “little children” any more than any other grown man does. But sometimes, perhaps, it’s appropriate.
It’s time to heal.