Posts Tagged ‘deceit’

I know the answer to this question because I know we anthropomorphize God.

I can’t help but wonder why You care about mortals—
    sons and daughters of men—
    specks of dust floating about the cosmos.

But You placed the son of man just beneath God
    and honored him like royalty, crowning him with glory and honor.
You ordained him to govern the works of Your hands,
    to nurture the offspring of Your divine imagination; [Psalm 8:4-6a, The Voice]

paradoxWe’re fortunate, really, that God is not much like people but we’re unlucky that human is not nearly like God as God would have hoped or planned. If God were more like us, then I’m sure God would be disappointed.

After all, God gives humans everything they need to make the best of a life: the ability to reason, the ability to create, the ability to love and care and help others. We are given the opportunity to partner with the greatest power in the Universe, the Holy Spirit, and we are asked to participate in the making of heaven on earth.

Instead, we who received the most have deceived the most.

The story of us is reflected in the first story of Adam & Eve. How could they do it? Why did they choose badly? Why do we? In essence, this is our story, day after day after day.

Until we figure out the reality of living within the paradox, we will not get it. I say this, at the very least, for myself. I understand intellectually what it means to love the unlovable, to give out of little instead of plenty, to turn the other cheek, to embrace enemies, to trust God is avenge pain, to sacrifice now for another life, to live outside of my perceived wants and needs, to take up the cross of Christ. I can say all the right words. I can teach the concepts. I know in my head, but I still, like Paul, “I can will myself to do something good, but that does not help me carry it out. I can determine that I am going to do good, but I don’t do it; instead, I end up living out the evil that I decided not to do.” [Romans 7:18b – 19, The Voice]

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This one is right up there with “be holy!” Peter does not mince words. At least in a couple of other translations, rid yourself of such and such is written as “lay aside” or “be done with,” but in any case, this one is on me.

I Peter 2:1-2a
Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk . . .

Like any plan to change, it’s important to understand the malady. Drunks can’t stop drinking until they know it’s a problem and so forth. I have to look with honesty, are these corrupting attributes part of my life?

Malice is pretty harsh stuff: a spiteful, intentional desire to do someone harm. The gentrified version of this would be deliberate “payback.” Another version of malice might be keeping a simple list of wrongdoings and justifying some other action because of that list. He owes me, as it were. So, I don’t hate anyone and I’m not by nature one who seeks to do harm, but I have kept a few lists hidden in my heart.

Holy Spirit, I give you permission to clean out those lists: reboot my system.

Deceit is a little less malicious but more roundabout in its application. It’s a lie, even a white lie, told on purpose to misrepresent a situation. It can be an exaggeration or a minimization. In any case, it’s a type of hiding. I justify this behavior by saying the truth will just cause more trouble. My kids have pretty much given me the same lame excuse. This needs to stop.

Holy Spirit, I give you permission to open the vault of my subterfuges. Just, please, don’t let ’em out all at once.

Hypocrisy is a form of acting. I really don’t want to admit publicly that I’m a hypocrite, who does? But I am a good actress and that ability crosses over into daily life, I know it does, without even thinking about it. I want people to like me. But I have made this mistake in relationships too often, trying to be someone I am not because I don’t want to rock the boat.

Holy Spirit, keep me authentic through transparency of heart.

Envy is rooted in American culture and we need some intense weeding here. It came to us under the guise of the American Dream but instead has fueled advertising into making us all want what we do not have. Discontentment with what is has become the norm as though it’s the foundation to ambition. I’ve gotten sucked in more than once: it’s the basic reason for my debt.

Holy Spirit, teach me to be content without sacrificing excellence.

Slander is my worst enemy and my best friend. It’s just a stronger word for gossip. It’s those times I put down someone else to make myself feel better. It’s those times I complain about someone else to gather a personal posse to be on my side. It’s those things I’ve said about other people that would be devastating if they were standing behind me. Oh yeah.

Holy Spirit, hold my tongue, keep me mindful of my words.

Peter says the solution to all of this is craving [thirsting, desiring eagerly] the pure “milk of the Holy Spirit.” This picture is the child at a women’s breast, where only the one can satisfy, with no intermediaries.

Do I crave the presence and intervention of the Holy Spirit? Do I crave the Christ, appropriating daily what was given to me by the sacrifice of the God-Man? Do I eat fruit instead of ice cream?

I am still free to choose.

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'City of Words', lithograph by Vito Acconci, 1999

What are “empty words” and how do they get so much power? They can mean loud, confused talk; they can mean sheer rhetoric (wordiness); or they can be just idle talk and chatter. Words, words, words: what is said and how we say them; they all matter after all, for good or ill.

Ephesians 5:6a, 8
Let no one deceive you with empty words, . . . For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light . . .

I have been struggling so much the last few days to temper my speech. I have tried to stop myself from speaking maliciously or unintentionally “catty.” I can put such an arch in my voice that even if the words are harmless, the intent is not. I know it and I know their power.

Now, there is another layer to consider and that of empty words, the yakkity yakkity yak that has no value whatsoever really and yet can do harm. How many cliches do I use in a day and what do they bring to a conversation really?

But I still wonder about those empty words that carry enough power to bring down the wrath of God. These empty words are chosen to deceive. These are words that appear to have meaning but don’t. These are words that are spoken to give the listener what he/she wants to hear perhaps. These are “wooing” words. These words do not carry the whole truth. They dissemble. They lie.

Though I confess I have used empty words in chatter, let me not use words to deceive. Once again, make me exceedingly mindful of my words today.
(FD 4)

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How do I convince someone that what I’m saying is the truth? I mean, really! People lie all the time. Show me a person who says he/she doesn’t lie and I’ll show you someone who is lying. It’s human nature: a slight embellishment, a minor distortion, a self-protection. And yet, when it’s really important . . .

Galatians 1:11, 20
I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel I preached is not something that man made up. . . . I assure you before God that what I am writing you is no lie.

How can I “make” someone believe me? Answer? I can’t.

“I believe you” must first be built on a foundation of trust. If trust is missing or lost, all bets are off. As soon as trust is broken, it’s a very long road back to acceptance. Betrayal is the antithesis of trust. They cannot co-exist.

In Galatians, Paul is trying to remind those churches of the bedrock he laid down for them while he was among them. Jesus did the same thing before his final sacrifice, he built trust and believability. He didn’t just walk up to people and say, “By the way, I’m the Son of God and I’ll be dying for your sins.” He would have been led to the nearest loony bin.

It’s really a simple equation: to the degree that I trust a person, it’s the same degree to which I will believe.

I trust God. I trust Christ.

But here’s what I’m thinking. The next time I don’t believe someone, I need to figure out what would change my mind. What is my criteria for trust? And the same in reverse. When someone doesn’t believe me, I must ask, “what do you need from me to believe me?” If there is no paradigm, then I can’t shift it. If the person cannot articulate what is needed to bring change, no change can happen. And that reality works both ways as well.

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It’s really not that hard to “look” like the real thing. We live in a “photoshop” world where pictures can be retouched to look like anything and anyone. People put on masks as well. It takes a lot of energy to be convincing.

II Corinthians 11:13-14
For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.

To masquerade as someone else requires “just enough” knowledge, lots of props, and the ability to talk it. Sincerity can be faked. Miracles can be helped along. Charisma is used by the honest and the dishonest.

The other day, there was an article in the paper about a man who was arrested for impersonating a police officer. This was his second time. He had a closet full of uniforms, identification, weapons, and other police gear. The tip off happened when he took his car to a shop and asked them to install the police lights he had purchased on the Internet. They said he looked so authentic that he could probably convince another police officer that he was the real deal. Why? Who knows?

He’s not the only one out there who goes to a lot of energy to put on a mask. Somehow, who we really are is no longer enough. And so we create a different persona. We are in total control.

Pretending righteousness seems almost worse than just outright sin.

It’s not for me to say who is masquerading and who is authentic. As an actress, I have put on such a mask from time to time. I am ashamed to even say it, but it’s true. It’s like the quick lie that my kids have perfected. It feels easier on the front end to cover up and delay and maybe even avoid consequences.

But camouflage faith brings nothing but sorrow. The supernatural effects of faith don’t work when it’s not the real thing.

A tiny true faith is better than any mask.

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There is a dramatic difference between the one who has been beguiled and the one doing the beguiling. Historically, I have used this word for its second meaning (to pass time pleasantly) and assumed its first meaning had a lighthearted coyness to it. Not so. It’s betrayal . . . and it’s intentional.

II Corinthians 11:3
But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived [beguiled in Amplified] by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ.

I don’t believe our children (whether they are sixteen or twenty-six) know they are being beguiled away from the faith. I see the world ensnaring them (and others) into believing they need all the “stuff.” They are bombarded with extremely convincing advertising that insists they are less because they need more: electronics, apps, screens, gadgets, clothing that advertises the store where it was purchased, ever-changing styles that make last year’s apparel uncool, high-powered jobs and income, and so on.

In order to compete, the “church” tries to lure these generations by using the same tools and tricks of the culture. Is that a good thing? I don’t know. Maybe. If young people begin to examine within and look for greater meaning, that has merit. Can it still be a bad thing? Does the end justify the means? I really don’t have an answer, I just have questions. It’s only the individual’s heart and soul that matter. The inner life, that inner discovery happens alone. No accoutrement is needed.

Betrayal is one of the deepest hurts of all. I have been hurt by people of the church.

We must be careful how we “woo” people to the Lord. A person should not be beguiled into the faith, as though following Christ is like taking a happy pill. It’s not.

The journey with Christ is not easier, it’s different, under girded with hope, assurance, and traditionally, with fellowship (other people who care and love). The end of the journey is known, but the path itself is still laden with challenges.

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