NOTE: I wrote this on Saturday, January 9, in response to the desecration of the Capital building. In it I try to tell the truth about myself. If we can’t tell the truth about ourselves, how can we tell it about others?
Today we see the devastation caused by the lie. I do not speak of the lie that the president won the election though certainly that lie has wreaked devastation, but the ancient lie of Satan that God is not good and can’t be trusted.
It is possible to grasp cutting-edge political truth while remaining ignorant. This ancient lie is the real cause of the devastation at our capital, the devastations in your life and the devastations through mankind’s history.
To expose, and condemn political lies without exposing and condemning the Lie-beneath-the-lies, is like arranging the chairs on the Titanic as she sinks or placing a fresh band aid on the arm of a cancer patient and saying “that will do.”
This is of the utmost relevance today because only the person who is confident that God is good, that God’s word can be trusted and that he or she is loved by God can dare to witness to the truth and not tell lies and shift blame.
Since that moment when our first parents acted on Satan’s lie and lost trusting intimacy with God, mankind has told each other lies about God (that we could hide from God and cover our shame) and attacked and blamed each other. We do not tell the truth about ourselves.
The truth is that just as our capital was vandalized and desecrated, you and I have desecrated and vandalized a much more sacred and holy thing: people made in his image, immortal souls: “Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals who we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit.” (C.S. Lewis)
The truth is by my words and by my deeds, by my actions and inactions, by my lust and gossip and greed and selfishness and jealousy and cowardice and pride and bitterness and anger and deceit, I am responsible for great devastations done to others and myself.
The truth is that even my most righteous acts and my most zealous witness to truth – whether that truth is religious our irreligious, political or pious – became strongholds of self-righteousness and pride from which vantage point I hold others in contempt.
The truth is that I am self-centered. Instead of laying down my life for others, I use them for my own purpose and pleasure. The truth is that you are self-centered too.
The truth is that no political victory, political leader, or political ideology can cover your shame or hide you from God. You and I are accountable.
The truth is that that we hate God and each other.
I can only bear witness to the truth about myself by the cross of Jesus. On the cross, Jesus Christ exposed the lie of the devil. He trusted God’s word and clung to God’s goodness even as he became the sin bearer. In the devastation of the cross, I see the full reality of my wickedness.
Jesus Christ exposes that we are all people of the lie. He exposes the lie of the irreligious that there is no God and that we do not need God to live a fully human life. His undeniably beautiful life was by trust in God’s word and dependence on God’s love and goodness. And he exposes the lie of the religious that we can cover our shame and atone our evil apart from the sacrificial death of Christ.
Jesus Christ also exposes the political lies that might makes right and that a political leader, party, ideology, media platform or even a nation can be trusted. Only God is worthy of the trust of an immortal soul.
At the cross of Jesus, I see the truth about my evil. But I also see the truth of God’s word, goodness and love. At the cross of Jesus, the promise of God to our first parents to send a Savior is fulfilled. At the cross of Jesus, God demonstrates his love for me and I receive the gift of his loving presence, his Spirit of truth that dwells in me.
Now by the Spirit who assures me of God’s love, I name and repent of the ways I desecrate and vandalize others and myself. Now by the Spirit, I bear the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness and self-control confessing that this fruit comes from God and not self.
Now by the Spirit who opens my heart to God’s word, I trust in God and not any man or woman, political party or nation, not even myself. I am calm and fearless in times of chaos, national upheaval and the unknowns of the future, because God is my refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
Now, by the Spirit who calls me to responsible action, I boldly witness to the ultimate truth of God in Jesus, discern and speak proximate truth to power, and forgive and love the other, even my enemies, as God forgave and loved me the great vandal and desecrater of his sacred image bearers.