I’ve chosen to do something with my weekly message that I rarely ever do, which is to use an archived “blast from the past” blog. Why? Well, some things just need repeating because the truth is even “truer” than when the original message was written. The date of this blog was August 9, 2016, right before the heat of the last national election season. We’re once again approaching campaign season, which I sometimes refer to as “smear” season. Last week former President Barak Obama was responding to some obvious and some alleged lies that our present President, without naming him, tells routinely. President Obama said, with a smile, “ALL POLITICIANS LIE!” If his statement is true, I think you’ll understand why I’ve chosen to rerun this blog.
Last week I sat watching an individual being interviewed on a nationally syndicated talk show and couldn’t believe my ears. The subject was “the veracity” of a particular national political personality’s statements made under oath. The one being interviewed was given the difficult assignment of defending a series of conflicting statements made by this political figure. Here’s the response that was given to defend what are obviously untrue statements. “They did not tell the truth, but they did not lie.” Hello, when does a lie become a lie? This is like saying, “I’m a little bit pregnant.” Either you are or you aren’t. In Matthew 5:37 we find Jesus telling us that our “yes” should simply be “yes,” and our “no” should simply be “no.” How much plainer does one need to be? Tell the truth!
Have you heard about the Liars Club? To be a member you must promise to tell one lie a day and not get caught. Another promise each member must agree to is that if you get caught, you must lie as many times as necessary to “lie your way out.” The Liars Club’s byline is, “If you tell a lie long enough ultimately you will believe it and others will as well.” Oh, by the way, the two qualifications I stated as promises each member of the Liars Club must make as well as the byline aren’t true; I just made that up. If you’re still reading, you’re probably wondering how much of this blog is true or just made up. That’s what happens when one prevaricates or in plain English just flat out LIES!
Here in America we create television shows built on lies. Do you remember the show To Tell the Truth? This old show featured four celebrity panelists who question three contestants regarding a true story about one of the three contestants. The impostors are allowed to lie, but the central character has sworn “to tell the truth.” After questioning the contestants, the panel attempts to identify which of the three contestants is telling the truth.
Do you remember when former President Bill Clinton was accused of having an inappropriate relationship with a young White House intern named Monica Lewinsky? A special investigation was conducted to see if the charge against President Clinton was true. The Special Prosecutor asked him if, when he said to his top aides that with respect to Monica Lewinsky, “There’s nothing going on between us,” that was true. Here’s what Clinton told the grand jury (according to footnote 1,128 in Starr’s report): “It depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is. If the–if he–if ‘is’ means is and never has been, that is not–that is one thing. If it means there is none, that was a completely true statement…Now, if someone had asked me on that day, are you having any kind of sexual relations with Ms. Lewinsky, that is, asked me a question in the present tense, I would have said no. And it would have been completely true.”
Hey folks, I’m not making this up. This is a word for word transcript of President Clinton’s defense that he did not lie to the American people about his alleged relationship with a White House intern. Now before we all get too critical of President Clinton, how often do you parse words and speak “evangelistically?” Evangelistically is a euphemism for evangelists that stretch the facts to make their sermons more sensational. Isn’t it a sad day when ministers are associated with truth stretching? The Clintonian answer to that question is, “It depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is,’ is.” Yes, of course, it IS a sad day when ministers are viewed as truth stretchers.
Do you remember when someone told a lie, their mouth was washed out with soap? If we did that today, we would need GoJo to put their production lines on overtime. Do the names Ananias and Sapphira ring a bell? Go to Acts 5 and learn the lesson of what happened to this husband and wife who lied about their donation to their church. They were struck dead by God for lying to the Holy Spirit. Someone has aptly said if we lived by this rule today we would need a morgue in the basement of the church to handle all of the liars. One commentator recently stated, “Today we lie about lying.”
In a world of spin doctors and fake news and even truth stretchers in government and the Church, let’s simply let our “yes” be “yes” and our “no” be “no.” After all, we follow Jesus who is known as The Way, The TRUTH, and The Life.
God help us today to live differently, to live truthfully and authentically. Amen.