Day 39: Network of Lies

Read: John 8:39-47

In the movie “Liar Liar,” Jim Carrey plays a man cursed to always tell the truth. You may think, “That doesn’t sound too bad. Truth telling is generally a good thing to do—he’s basically being cursed to be virtuous.” But that’s why the movie is so hilarious! The amount of trouble Jim Carrey’s character gets into for giving his honest thoughts is hysterical. The humor in this movie highlights a troubling reality: our society doesn’t just endure lying, but depends on it. The movie implies that telling the total truth is enough to disrupt everything around a person and ruin their life. 

Jesus speaks along the same lines in John 8:39-47, when He speaks to the “Jews who believed Him.” Although these people are moved to follow Jesus and ‘believe’ Him, they’re unwilling to accept the fact that the world they know is built on lies. Even though they would like to think they are followers of God, their hearts are miles away from the heart of God.

Upon first reading, this passage can look pretty hopeless. Jesus isn’t exactly ‘seeker-friendly’ when He says, “you are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires.” Remember though that again and again Jesus has offered them a way out by saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (v. 12). Jesus’ point is not simply to accuse, but to convict. The problem for these ‘believing Jews’ isn’t that they’re skeptical of Jesus as the solution—they haven’t even gotten that far yet—they’re skeptical of the problem!

If sin were an ocean, we’d be living on the ocean floor. A lifeline to the surface is our only hope, but if we don’t even acknowledge we’re drowning, how can we be expected to seize hold of the lifeline? In “Liar Liar,” most of the lies that make up the main character’s daily life aren’t what we would typically call lies. They’re “white-lies,” or tiny compromises. Even in the most virtuous society, a compromise of truth can easily slip by unnoticed. We often don’t notice when we add to the intricate network of lies that make up our everyday experiences. This network can become so complex and pervasive that we don’t notice it’s there, even though we feel the pain it brings. 

The believing Jews in this passage thought they were children of God since they were descendants of Abraham. But just like everyone else, they were born into a world of sin, being manipulated from their first steps to do the will of Satan. Although our salvation does come by faith and not works, this does not mean our sin-nature vanishes overnight. With our new life, we are empowered to enjoy the Kingdom of God like Jesus did and to be free from sin. Our sin nature is overcome only when our lifeline to the Father is restored.

Jesus isn’t content to leave His followers with a merely intellectual assurance of salvation, but with real-life experience of salvation by living as He did. This isn’t an extra-curricular add-on to the Christian life. It is itself the manifestation of Christ’s life in us, through intimate correspondence with the will of the Father.

If Jesus’ words seem hard to apply to your life right now, spend some time in prayer. Pray for opportunities to obey and the strength and energy to do so. Remember that obedience to Jesus is not the way to the fulfilled life, it itself is the fulfilled life for the Christian, who participates with the Spirit in bringing the Kingdom to earth as it is in heaven.

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