I lie to myself; so do you. We try to create our own fake news to keep reality at arm's length.
Lies we tell ourselves:
1. "I'm not that bad." Compared to whom? Maybe I'm not that bad compared to the drunken driver who kills someone; compare me to perfection - Jesus - and I don't even make the chart. Believing the lie that "I'm not that bad" means I'm constantly measuring to see how my morality stacks up with everyone else.
2. "I don't succumb to peer pressure." We declare we are individualists, then get in a car a celebrity told us to buy, listen to a song that our friends think is cool and then stop to pick up some beer we saw featured in an ad with flat-stomached guys and pretty girls who were having a good time around a campfire in the mountains.
3. "I can stop anytime I want to." This is the lie addicts tell themselves. Addicts falsely equate change with willpower. John Ortberg said, "Habit eats willpower for lunch." Perversely, it's not until we admit we can't stop that we have any hope of change.
4. "I make my own rules." Call the bank and tell them you made your own rules and it's OK for you to skip a few payments. Tell the doctor that you make your own rules, so the cancer won't kill you like it does everyone else. Tell the trooper you make your rules about the speed limit (Tried it. Doesn't work).
5. "I know how to fix this." I hurt my wife. I buy her flowers (or jewelry or a car or a house) because I know how to fix it. Then I'm surprised that she's still mad. I get mad back because my fix isn't working. I never stop to hear her pain, to understand her. I'm not really trying to fix the problem; I'm trying to get her to forget the problem so I don't feel guilty.
6. "I can make it up to you." Closely kin to lie No. 5, we tell ourselves if we say "I'm sorry" enough times, or if we go into super-servant mode, or if we just declare enough that we've changed, the past goes away and we get a clean start. You may be forgiven, but you can't erase consequences of past choices.
7. "God wouldn't be mad at me." A third-century theologian, Lactantius, said, "He who does not get angry does not care." Any parent who truly loves his or her child will be angry when that child does something that harms himself or herself. If God is love, doesn't it make sense that He would be angry that we harm ourselves?
What happens if you believe your own lies? You center on yourself. You expend tremendous energy and resources trying to keep your false version of reality intact. If you live in the land of fake reality too long, you become a narcissist. Your fake version of reality shuts out others. Relationships wither and die.
There is a reason Jesus said, "The truth will set you free." Here's the truth - you don't get to define reality. You need help coping with reality.
That's what Jesus offers. He offers you help. He offers you love. He offers you grace. He offers to set you free from your own lies.
What truth is Jesus speaking to you right now? Are you listening to Him? Or your own lies?
Clay Smith is the lead pastor of Alice Drive Baptist Church, 1305 Loring Mill Road, www.adbc.org.
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