Friday, December 07, 2007

No More Lies

Still poking my way through Ephesians. Wow, I just looked back and I've been reading Ephesians since July, interspersed with the Psalms and different scripture passages associated with the weekly messages at church. I felt like I was cruising right along, reveling in glorious passages like the following verses from Chapter 1:

I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.

Chapter 2 was reassuring - that because of Christ, I belong - plain and simple. Chapter 3 was enlightening - full of good words like grace and power and freedom and confidence.

And then I hit Chapter 4. Or it hit me - still not sure which is accurate! Ever come to one of those passages in scripture that just won't let you go? Starting out in vs. 1-16 with this idea of calling, or vocation (which is a beautiful word) that Paul speaks of, followed by a challenge to "grow up in Christ." And then, as if God knew I wasn't getting it on my own, two weeks of messages at church were focused on this passage - thanks God!

Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

Coming down to verse 25 now, Paul gets very practical. How does all this look in our daily lives? And he starts with this challenge:

Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body.

Huh? I think the KJV puts it this way: Lie not one to another. Pretty basic, isn't it? I like how the Message puts it:

What this adds up to, then, is this: no more lies, no more pretense. Tell your neighbor the truth. In Christ's body we're all connected to each other, after all. When you lie to others, you end up lying to yourself.

Um. Ouch! So I've been thinking about this lying thing lately. Wondering what kind of lying the first century Christians struggled with, such that Paul needed to come right out and admonish them to stop. I have a feeling it went a little deeper than "no, I didn't take any cookies from the cookie jar." And I know it goes deeper for us today. Hasn't this issue of truth-telling been the great struggle since Eve's conversation with the serpent back in the garden?

So what kind of falsehoods do we need to put off? And how do we speak truth to our neighbor? Is it just the "speaking the truth in love" type of truth - "you've got spinach in your teeth" - that kind of truth we dare to share with someone we love? Have you ever done that and what was the outcome? What about being honest about ourselves with one another? And what about this idea of lying to ourselves - why and how do we do that? (I thought it was a bit of a stretch at first, that phrasing from the Message, but then if we are really members of one body, isn't lying to ourselves connected with being honest with each other?)

These are just questions - things I'm pondering. I'd like some input here if you have any thoughts. Since I don't have comments enabled (maybe in January) shoot me an email and I'll work them into a follow-up post on this topic (I won't use any names, just a first initial).