"Jacob said to his father, 'I am Esau your firstborn.'" - Genesis 27:19
"Liar, liar pants on fire, hanging by a telephone wire."
It's not the most refined piece of poetry ever written but it's accurate. Getting caught in a lie makes you feel like you're burning while dangling by a thread for all to see. Why "a telephone wire"? A telephone wire is a conduit of communication, the rules of which have just been violated.
Jacob is one of the first liars on record and his was a whopper with consequences that caused him to burn and dangle for many years. No wonder the prohibition against lying is one of the Ten Commandments. By my lights, lying is numero uno because it is the root of the other nine.
Here are some of the leading lies in the air today:
- Gee, you haven't changed a bit!
- I just need 5 more minutes.
- This won't hurt at all.
- Would I lie to you?
- I'm fine.
- God is dead.
Three hundred years before Christ, Plato predicted that if a good and truthful man were ever to appear, he would be crucified. Though Plato didn't see his prophecy come to pass, he knew all lies come to an end but the truth never dies. Jesus fulfilled that too.
Don't deceive yourself. Like Jacob, we are all liars. That's the bad news. But neither should we deprive ourselves of the good news: God lives and God forgives.
Lord God, in Jesus your truth was hung, not by a telephone wire, but by a cross, to expose our lies and broadcast your undying forgiveness to the world. Amen.
Matthew Laney is the Senior Minister of Asylum Hill Congregational Church, UCC, in Hartford, Connecticut.