A Christian leader was speaking in our church a few years ago; he told a moving story about his encounter with some homeless people the previous week, leaving his listeners profoundly impressed by his Christian spirit.
Fourteen months later, he was speaking at a much larger gathering, hundreds of young people sat in rapt attention as he told them of his moving encounter with some homeless people; the story was repeated in every tiny detail, including telling his listeners that it had happened “last week”. My daughter, among the listeners on both occasions, asked why he had told a lie and if he had lied about when the incident happened, could we be sure it had happened at all?
It worries me when Christians tell lies, if we’re not found truthful in small things, how can we be trusted when it comes to the big things?
I attended a youth event in 2004 – I counted roughly 400 people at it, in a building where there are regular rows of chairs, it wasn’t too hard to make a reasonable estimate. Going to the same event last year, the numbers were significantly smaller, falling to 300 at the most.The organisers claimed there were 500 in 2004 and this morning a mailing came about this year’s event – it claimed there were 650 last year.
It worries me when Christians tell lies.
Why do it? Who is it intended to convince? Do they hope that by inflating the numbers, they will attract more people along?What happens when those taken in by the hype come along and find that the claims are unfounded?
Perhaps the people they are trying to convince are themselves. Perhaps they are so certain of their own rightness, that there must be the huge numbers they expect, even though others might contend otherwise. Perhaps even the evidence of their eyes is insufficient to shake their certainty that the Lord has sent them what they want.
There were lots of people in the New Testament certain of their rightness – they were the very people who faced the harshest criticism from Jesus. Perhaps in a world obsessed with success and image and power, it will just not do to accept that being a Christian might mean the path of failure and unrewarded effort. Perhaps telling lies is easier than the way of the Cross.