Thursday, October 10, 2013

Exposing Lies

Something that has been impressed on me significantly of late is how urgent is the need to combat lies. And I'm talking about the kind of lies that affect how we think, our motivations, the interior life. In other words, spiritual falsehoods. As we used to say in pentecostal parlance, the lies of the enemy. It is clear from Scripture that the devil is a liar and the father of lies (Jn. 8:44) but unfortunately the human can become an excellent long-term incubator for lies once sown. Combating lies is sometimes about resisting messages coming at you in real-time, but it also needs to be about examining the hidden foundations of one's thinking, or rather opening oneself deeply, fearlessly, relentlessly to the gentle and powerful action of the Holy Spirit, who is the Spirit of Truth and the vanquisher of lies.

There is a holy darkness and a sacred silence, but there is also darkness and silence that kill and conceal death. Exposing lies to the light and sound of day is their undoing. Here are some the Holy Spirit has been working on outing from my hiding places.

1)  You should be ashamed of love.
Lies have this characteristic subtlety combined with blatant falsehood, and this biggie proves it.

Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 2331: "God is love and in himself he lives a mystery of personal loving communion. Creating the human race in his own image . . .. God inscribed in the humanity of man and woman the vocation, and thus the capacity and responsibility, of love and communion."

The father of lies has tried all my life to twist in my mind that which I was made to do into either something that is impossible for me, something that proves I am a filthy rag, or something that shows I am psychologically unstable. 

Last week, on the feast of St. Therese the Little Flower, I was bowled over when I read her words that summarize the life of one called to the vocation of Carmel: "In the heart of the Church, I will be love." I was bowled over because I realized how God has been writing into the fiber of my life these last several years with His very own precious tool of healing, lessons in love. I have been scared by His lessons, I have been bewildered by His lessons, and I have been jaw-droppingly awed by His lessons. But the nitty-gritty practicality is that God calls me to walk in the opposite direction of the lie that tried to destroy my vocation. Love is not only possible for me, it is real and present. Loving another does not make me a filthy rag, by it I live as God Himself. Love is not psychological sickness; it is strength, wholeness and life.

2)  Humility is stupid.

As St. Augustine said, man is a beggar before God, and therefore the only logical stance a human being can have is one of humility before Him. This lie is connected to the suggestion that God as revealed in Christ cannot be trusted. Pride believes that one is able to produce his own protection, his own provision, and indeed even conjure his own existence. Pride is grossly irrational. Pride is stupid.

Pride also isolates, alienates, cuts us off from the fellowship and love of other people and from our roots. The antidote that smashes the lie that humility is stupid is salvation history, particularly the entire Old Testament up through the Incarnation of Christ. God put a lot into promising Himself to and forming His chosen people. Then, in the fullness of time, God came into the scene in the flesh, and was born in humble obscurity. Humility is always the way God chooses to come into this world. One of the clearest promises in Scripture is that the proud will be humbled and the humble will be exalted. This is probably one of the biggest points in which Christianity has not been "tried and found wanting, but found difficult and not tried," as Chesterton puts it.

3)  You are destitute.
This is another swipe at the trustworthiness of God and at the value of His love, but it is a bit more personal that the humility lie. It can fuel the felt need for pride, for doing it all ourselves. The enemy's goal here is our dissatisfaction and the agitation of the vague desire for "more."

This is combated by repentance from greed and self pity. That repentance is probably easiest fueled by cluing into reality outside yourself until compassion and gratitude and allowed to well up in your heart. Open your eyes and notice that other people suffer too. Let your heart be moved by it. Then sit down and list every good in and around your life. Acknowledge God as the giver of every good gift (Jas. 1:17). Realize He wants you to give as freely as He does, not grasp for more.

4)  The people around you are hopeless.
Wrong. The people around you are just like you: made in the image and likeness of God with the vocation, the capacity, and the responsibility to love. You can help them be who they are by being faithful to who you are, and reminding them of the truth, not the lies.

The people around you deserve your fellowship and your love. In other words, they deserve the fruit of your humility, not of your pride.

The people around you are part of the treasure God gives you. Honor their presence in your life as His precious gift. Ask Him what you can learn from them. Open your life to them as you would to Him.

Expose the lies; live the truth. This is no theoretical game. Living the truth will purify the heart and continue to uproot falsehood's tendrils. This is the spiritual battle for which we can become fit and ready. This is really what makes life exciting and gives it zest. Spiritual complacency makes life boring, dull and unsatisfying. Ripping in to this stuff and doing the right thing is where you find joy. Yeah, ok, it sucks at first to realize you aren't the perfect center of the universe, but deep down you already know that, right?

Come, Holy Spirit. May it be done unto me according to Your Word.

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