Sunday, March 04, 2012

The Great Lie (Lent 2)

 Are you familiar with the concept of “The Great Lie?”  This is the concept that if you tell someone something enough times, eventually the person will believe it.  Often, when we discuss the Great Lie, we are talking about such things as Jews are genetically inferior, as are blacks and women.  Or we are talking about things such as all unemployed people are lazy or all Muslims are violent and make bombs. 
But it doesn’t have to be that big of a lie; it can be lies on a smaller scale.  When I was a kid, we had the Great Lie that all the kids that lived in a small town called Sheryl were stupid hicks and all the girls chewed tobacco.  In college, it was the concept that if the nursing students could pass a class, then anyone could.  And I am sure if we think about it, we can all think of Great Lies that we heard about each one of us.  My sister continually told me that I could not sing.  Even after being in musicals and having solos, I doubted my abilities.  I also heard that I was a “scatter-brain” and would never amount to much because I could never keep on track.  These Great Lies hurt!  And when we are constantly bombarded by them, we begin to question our own reality.  If all these people are telling us something that seems counter to our own experience, then maybe it is OUR perception that is wrong.  That is often what we begin to believe.
Advertisers LOVE the Great Lie.  The way advertisers sell stuff is by making us believe that we are not good people if we do not have their product.  Advertisers tell us that we are not good enough unless we have a specific car, or wear a specific style of clothing.  We are not good house keepers if our counters are dusty.  We should be ashamed to walk out of the house if we have “ring around the collar” or “dingy whites.”  We keep getting told that we need specific things to make us acceptable or happy and as these messages sink farther and farther into our subconscious, we begin to believe them.
Now, advertisers are not the only ones who do this; religions do this too.  I have been told that if I did not speak in tongues that God really didn’t love me.  We keep getting told that we have to have a Mega-Church to be taken seriously as a worshipping community.  And so often we are told that unless we have children running up and down the aisles then we might as well pack it up and head home.  And when we hear this enough, especially coming from people whom we consider authorities, we begin to believe it.  The Great Lie takes hold of our minds and begins to beat us down.
But I’m here to tell ya!  The thing that we forget about the Great Lie is that it is, in fact, A LIE!  Just because it is repeated over and over and over does not make it true!  For every Great Lie we hear, we can most assuredly find exceptions to these lies.  And in many cases, we can find multiple exceptions.  Unfortunately, since we are bombarded with the Great Lie, we need to continue to search for those exceptions and remind ourselves that the lie is just that, a lie.
Abraham could have just given into the common thought that he and Sarah we just too old to do anything.  I am sure this had crossed their minds.  And it would have been the commonly held “wisdom” that these old people couldn’t possible contribute to their community anymore. And I am guessing that Abraham and Sarah had bought into the prevailing belief.  But God was not going to give into the Great Lie.  God was going to make a promise to Abraham that would blow the Great Lie right out of the water!  God promised Abraham that he would become the Father of Nations.  Now, frankly, that just sounds silly.  He was old, Sarah was old.  How was this supposed to happen?  God had plans for Abraham and Sarah, and God wasn’t about to let something like biology get in the way!
What are the Great Lies we have been told and continue to tell ourselves?  What are the things we want to do but either society tells us we can’t do or we tell ourselves that we can’t do?  What could we do if we stopped telling ourselves that we just can’t do it?
I am constantly shocked by the miracles that surround me everyday.  I got here in a car; people said we could never go that fast.  I have my cell phone; something that was purely science-fiction when I was born.  I typed this sermon on a laptop computer; I don’t even know if science-fiction writers even considered these things!  We are constantly surrounded by things that take the myth of the Great Lie and break it wide open.
But still, those Great Lies that we have been surrounded by hold tight.  I still question every time I open my mouth to sing.  I still wonder if I am just kidding myself and that I sound horrible.  I still question every time I stand up to preach.  I worry that people are right and that I have nothing of value to say.  I think we get sucked into the Great Lies because we do not want to be seen as being foolish.  We are afraid of failing and having people think we are silly.
Abraham must have felt pretty silly listening to God’s schpiel.  Abraham must have felt odd to go ahead and believe, to act “as if.”  Abraham must have felt silly.  But Abraham trusted.  And in trusting, God’s will was brought forth.  And those of us sitting here are the living proof that God can smash the Great Lie.  Abraham did not believe everything that society was telling hem and was putting his trust in God.
Are we willing to risk looking silly?  Are we willing to put aside the Great Lies we have been told by the world and trust in God?  Are we willing to step out in faith and believe that God can do more that we could ever consider? 
Are we willing to believe that the God who could use Abraham and Sarah at an advanced age could use us?  Are we willing to trust that a God who could use all kinds of people could use us?  So often we keep believing the lies we are told.  We believe we are too old, too small, too whatever to matter.  But here we have God telling two people, two OLD people, two OLD CHILDLESS people that they were going to be the parents of nations.  Would we believe?
That is the tough thing, but that is a challenge we must face.  We must see that with our God, we are able to so much more than we could ever conceive.  But we need to be willing to step out, to take the risk, to be possibly look silly.  We need to look to Abraham as a role model in trust and belief.  We need to see that because he believed, we now are here today.  God is willing to do a lot through us, but we need to have the faith to move into those areas that seem beyond us.

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