It is very clear, according to the Holy Scriptures and all the Saints, that the worst sin of all is the lie. The most perverse lie we can possibly utter is the lie about ourselves and the lie about God. When we lie about God, we are lying about ourselves, and when we lie about ourselves we are lying about God.
Serge S. Verhovskoy (1907-1981)
The primal deception of Eden was based on the lie – and every deception, down to our own day, is also based on the lie. The primal lie – which included the insinuation that life apart from God was possible and preferable to obedient communion with him, set in motion the life of separation which all of us experience in one form or another.
It is in embracing the lie that truth is abandoned and multiple tragic life scenarios are set in motion, the consequences of which can be catastrophic. When we say one life is of more value than another, that my children are of more value than children starving to death in Africa or being blown apart by bombs in Gaza – we are living the lie. But in truth that is how most of us live. When we say our culture is superior to another – that we are somehow more righteous, more moral and more upright than others, we are living the lie and suppressing the truth of our own moral and spiritual bankruptcy.
I suspect the question ‘Did God really say?’ is the silent whisper forever in the background of our consciousness most of the time. By our lives and by our actions the answer, very often, is ‘no’ – and again and again the truth dies in the silence of our lie and a part of our lives with it.
We are all, I think, brought up with the lie ringing in our ears in one form or another – ‘You are not worthy’ – ‘Your life will never mean anything’ – ‘God hates you’ – ‘You are useless’ – ‘You are ugly’ and a multitude of other assertions and unspoken insinuations. Or, the lie might be – ‘You are better than everyone else’ – ‘Everyone outside our religion is morally bankrupt and to be avoided’ and ‘Our denomination is the only true one.’ Of course, many more lies could be added to the list. However, all of these lies and, as I say, a million more, have the potential to destroy a life and neuter ambition, growth, self-worth and a healthy spirituality – or, in the second scenario, produce a bigoted and self-righteous life of superiority and scorn. All of these lies, however, have the potential of destroying the true images of God – for, as Verhovskoy suggests – ‘When we lie about God, we are lying about ourselves, and when we lie about ourselves we are lying about God.’ Our streets, homes and churches are littered with living examples of this.
Much of religion, in my culture, has misrepresented God. This has had tragic consequences. As we have already suggested if you lie, even unwittingly, about God – you not only lie about yourself – but also all those around you. To actually teach and preach a lie about God is a terrible thing. However – if you truly know God, you will know the truth about yourself – and you will know the truth about every person you meet and indeed millions you will never see. Conversely, if you live and teach lies about God and his character, you become the worst of liars and have shifted your allegiance to the father of lies – Satan himself. It is sobering to think that the demons themselves masquerade as ‘Angels of Light (2 Cor. 11:4) spreading plausible lies about God.
In all of this, it becomes imperative, particularly at the moment in which we live when God has been so misrepresented by much of the Christian community, that we return to the Truth – that we listen very carefully to the voice of the Holy Spirit, who, Jesus said, would lead and guide us into all truth. To meditate on the Jesus of the scriptures who came to reveal the true heart of God – and to hold fast to the truth that the essence of the God he reveals is pure Love.
The verse of an old hymn came to me recently as I considered all this –
Jesus is standing in Pilate’s hall—
Friendless, forsaken, betrayed by all:
Hearken! What meaneth the sudden call?
What will you do with Jesus?
As Jesus stood before Pilate, Pilate asked him – ‘What is truth’. However, Jesus did not answer. Pilate was looking at the embodiment of all truth at that moment – but did not perceive it. I think many people, including thousands of self-professed ‘Christians’ do not see it either. The true Jesus is as friendless and forsaken today as he was then. What will we do with Jesus indeed?