Journey to Oz-5: Truth or Consequences

June 27, 2007 by · 1 Comment 

As I continue to reflect on “truth” and “lies” I once again find myself thinking about what the great theologian George Castanza (you remember George—from the TV show Seinfeld) once said (you can tell the great influencers in my life, huh?):

It’s not a lie if you believe it.

That is a very interesting thought. George’s philosophy comes in pretty handy as we try to navigate the challenges of our lives. The profound truth behind this sitcom one-liner is that we all live this way to a certain extent.

On one hand, the statement is preposterous. A lie is a lie, and a truth is a truth—whether you believe it or not. When George says this, we see that it is merely a way for him to rationalize irrational, immoral, or selfish behavior. He states this “mantra for living” so that he can do whatever it is he wants to do (with very entertaining consequences).

On the other hand, believing a lie can create truth (did I just write that?!? Maybe this thinking stuff is too hard for me). Here’s what I mean. Say I’m a high school student (“you’re a high school student”). I am a sophomore and I do not excel in the classroom at all. I am four foot nine and weight 103 pounds. I wear glasses and have a lot of acne. I am shy and often say the wrong thing at the wrong time (you probably knew someone like me or were me). Although my parents tell me that I am a wonderful boy and that there is a girl for me out there somewhere (probably true), my friends (and enemies) tell me something completely different. They say that I will never get a date. They say that no girl would ever want to be seen with me (probably not true). I, however, look in the mirror and begin to believe the lie that no one would ever be attracted to me. This causes me to become even more self-conscious. I avoid girls at all costs, and when I am around them I get so nervous my nose bleeds. If a girl is nice to me, I decide that she is just toying with me—that she is setting me up as some kind of joke—so I take actions to “beat her to the punch” and get her first. This tactic causes even more alienation… I do not date in high school.

Does this sound far-fetched? If so, you need to hang around teen-agers more often. You also need to be a little more honest with yourself.

Let me ask you this. Have you ever said something like…

“I’ll never lose that weight, I’m not disciplined enough.”

“I’m a worrier—that’s just what I do.”

“I can’t help the way I react.”

“The glass is always ‘half empty’ with me—that’s the way I am.”

“I’ll never get out of debt because I cannot manage money.”

“I’m a screw-up and always will be!”

“I’m nothing without my [job, family, spouse, skill, object].”

“I’d be happy if only I had a [job, family, spouse, skill, object].”

If so, you’re believing a lie (or perhaps a “half-truth” we’ve been talking about). The question isn’t whether you’ve had these thoughts or not (I imagine we’ve all been there), it’s why do we have them and what do we do with them.

I liked Joel’s comment about how we may believe half-truths “because it’s just plain easier”. Even though there are consequences to believing a lie, it may be easier than facing the truth. And here is what I think is easier about it: I am in control. I am the authority, I am in charge, I am the decision maker, I call the shots. And there is something deep inside of me that really, really (would it be too much to add another “really” here?!?), really desires that control.

When Georgie says, “It’s not a lie if you believe it” he is really saying, “I want to create my own reality where I get to call the shots!” And you know what—we want that even if it means that we have to suffer some consequences. That’s what Eve wanted. That’s why she went for the fruit (By the way, I love it when people say something like, “I wouldn’t have eaten the fruit… Why didn’t God put me in the garden? Then none of this sin stuff would have ever happened!… If I were in the garden, I would have eaten the fruit before God even took my rib to make a woman!). Adam and Eve saw an opportunity to take matters in their own hands—and they went with it.

Let’s be real honest here. The toughest part of the Christian life is surrendering to God. It’s giving him the control. It’s recognizing his authority. It is obeying his commands. It’s letting him call the shots. It is believing that he will actually direct and guide you—that he loves you and cares for you and has your best interests at heart.

I became a Christian at a very confusing time in my life. It was just after college and I was embarking on MY LIFE. Preparation time was over (college, education, living at home)—it was time to get going (job, wife, family). But I didn’t know where to go. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know how to do it. That was scary.

Then I came across this verse in the Bible (I’d heard it before, but God put it in front of me when I needed it most).

Trust in the Lord with all your heart

and lean not on your own understanding;

[6] in all your ways acknowledge him,

and he will make your paths straight.

Proverbs 3:5-6

The words touched my heart. This is what I need! I thought. This is what I’m looking for! Guidance, direction, straight paths instead of dark, winding, roads. I need to “trust God” not myself! I need to acknowledge HIM not ME. I need HIS unlimited understanding and wisdom and knowledge—not MY limited, feeble, understanding.

I rejected the lie that I could build MY LIFE on my own, and believed the truth that I could only build MY LIFE on God. This truth became crystal clear during that time.

So, I trusted HIM. And he started to make my paths straight (at times, not always as straight as I would have liked). And life was grand.

Until I started to want the control of MY LIFE back (approximately 17 hours after “This truth became crystal clear”). Until I decided that we could (should) do MY LIFE as a partnership instead of a sole proprietorship (he would be the “silent” partner). Until I figured that I could (should) call some (most) of the shots of MY LIFE, and he could handle the big ones (provision, health, security, peace, joy, etc.). Until I determined that I could (should) handle the “earthly” rules of MY LIFE, and he could be responsible for “heavenly” rules (after all, his house, his rules… that’s only fair).

Can you see the lie I bought (like Eve, like Adam). It goes against a real basic Christian truth… Do you see it? (I’ll give you a hint: look at the paragraph above and see what two words keep jumping out at you.)

The lie is that I often think of my life as MY LIFE. And it’s not, not anymore, at least. See, Jesus doesn’t want to just help me to improve my life—He wants to live HIS LIFE through me. If you are a follower of Jesus the same thing is true about you. YOUR LIFE has become HIS LIFE. You are “in Christ” and Christ is “in you”.

Jesus said,

Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. [24] For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.

(Luke 9:23-24)

This is a tough passage, huh? It seems to make no sense. How can I “save” my life by “losing” it? What does “deny myself” mean? When I am faced with Jesus’ words, I could conclude that I don’t want to go there! Lose my life, deny myself. Those don’t sound fun. And it may appear easier. To ignore them and go my own way.

But it’s not. That’s a lie too. There is one message I need to understand from Jesus and other writer’s of the New Testament. And it’s simply this: JESUS IS MY LIFE.

Look at these verses…

John 11:25

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies;

John 14:6

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Col. 3:3-4

For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. [4] When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

John 1:4

In him was life, and that life was the light of men.

There is no life apart from Jesus. I can pretend that that’s not true; I can posture and preen and postulate wonderful lies like “God helps those who help themselves”; I can self-motivate, self-invigorate, and self-carbonate. But that doesn’t change the truth. When I try to live MY LIFE on MY OWN by MY STRENGTH and MY TALENTS I’ll need a lot of MYLANTA… Because it doesn’t work.

This whole challenge of BELIEVE THE TRUTH and REJECT ALL LIES rests on one person: Jesus… If we don’t accept that, we’re going alone. And Jesus doesn’t want us to go alone. That’s why he promises to always be with us. That’s why he sent the Holy Spirit. That’s why we don’t have to be afraid. That’s why we can trust Jesus to reveal the truth.

So here’s the question… Do you believe Jesus?

Grace and peace,

Doug

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One Response to “Journey to Oz-5: Truth or Consequences”
  1. Steve Snively says:

    When I try to live MY LIFE on MY OWN by MY STRENGTH and MY TALENTS I’ll need a lot of MYLANTA. Classic!!!

    Who hasn’t been there? This really hit me when my first child was born. All of a sudden, I realized that there was no way I could “control” the situation. I realized I ultimately had no control over my son’s safety, growth, and health. Even if I stayed right beside my son 24 hours a day, I didn’t have the power to keep him healthy and happy. I quickly turned to God and pleaded for help. I “gave” my son to God, even though God already was in charge :-).

    God let me know that I need to pray for my kids, but He loves them more than I do and He is doing special things in them. I am always concerned for my kids, but God has taken the “worry” away. As the song goes, “He’s got the whole world in His hands…”.

    I am still trying to trust God in just about every other aspect of my life, but He was gracious to let me know what trusting feels like.

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