My friend, Mallory, and I have a skype chat every Tuesday. It’s always the highlight of my day. We’ve been going through this book called Girl Talk by Jen Hatmaker which is all about “getting past the chitchat” and having a real, raw relationship with each other and with God. This week was intense. It was deep. It was a kick in the pants. It was titled, “Lies we tell God.” I knew it was going to be rough.
Jen starts off with a bold statement, a very brutally honest statement: “There is no place more fake these days than the church.”
We are the church. And yet, would you ever say that about yourself? That you are fake?
Most days I feel that I am a very honest person. I strive for transparency. Sure, I exaggerate, but don’t we all? Sometimes I might say what I wish things could be instead of what they actually are. I tell people that I am seeking God even though I don’t read my Bible enough to ever call it “every so-often,” and no, I don’t pray all the time. But I want God’s will for my life, so of course that means I’m seeking Him. Right? Lie. I deceive myself all the time. And though I cannot deceive God, I lie to Him more often than I communicate with Him. And He always knows the truth of my heart.
My heart resonates with Jen. “I’m altogether familiar with churchy language. I know the right words to say, the right way to worship, the right comments to make, the right prayers to deliver… But I’ve learned that they are utterly false.” I know what that’s like. I’ve grown up in the church. These words, they’re easy to say. I’ve heard them over and over again. But are they real? Sometimes, yes. I will not say that my faith is a joke, or that it is false, but so many times it is routine, and not from my heart. Those times, God would rather have me be silent than utter stupid, meaningless words. They are a lie.
Ecclesiastes 5:1-3 — “Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. Go near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools, who do not know that they do wrong. Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few. As a dream comes when there are many cares, so the speech of a fool when there are many words.”
My faith is imperfect. I lie to God. The Creator of the Universe, who knows everything, and from whom I can keep no secrets, I lie to Him. And on top of that, this Creator, Savior, Redeemer of the Universe, I don’t believe Him. I believe in Him, but I don’t believe Him. Jen asks, “How different would our lives look if we really believed Him?” We say,
“I believe You, but I couldn’t sacrifice my pride. I believe You, but I refuse to sacrifice my fear. I believe You, but I can’t sacrifice my image, my family’s image. I believe You, but I really don’t.“
If you really believed God, what would you have to sacrifice? For me, there are two big things that God put on my heart. The first is my image. I desire to be loved, wanted, and desired by everyone else. I dress up for that. I put on make-up every day for that reason. I make jokes. I gossip. I say things I probably shouldn’t. I do it because I want to be loved. I want to have the image of a person who is liked, who is desired.
The second is Seattle Pacific University. If God told me to give up my life at college, would I? It was easy for me to put image on the list of things that are hard to sacrifice. Many people struggle with that. It’s common, even among believers. But SPU? My college? My future? Home, friends, life? SPU means so much to me. But would I give it up if God told me to? Could I sacrifice all of this for God who has given me even more? Do I believe that God does not lie to me when He tells me that whatever He has is better for me, even if what He has for me does not include SPU? Do I believe Him?
“When we choose God’s truth over fear, over pride, the Spirit blesses us and makes us holy. When you obey in belief, even though you’re terrified, He breaks the shackles from your feet. God can lead you only to the truth, and the truth will set you free. Believe that.”
Lastly, Jen asks, “How are you doing in fulfilling your vows to the One who saved you?” I lied again. I said, “I’m not breaking any commitments to God.” I am not like Eve; I have not disobeyed His instructions. I am not like Jonah; I am not running away from Him. I am not like Peter; I have not denied Him. I am not like Judas; I have not betrayed Him. And then He immediately stopped me, and very bluntly, He showed me. I am breaking the very first vow I ever made to Him. I vowed to surrender my life to Him, but every day I choose to live for myself.
God desires raw, real, genuine, brutally honest. He doesn’t want a pretty lie. He wants the ugly truth. I encourage you to search your heart and crush the lies that stand between you and your Redeemer. Go ahead, He knows we’re disastrous. He knows we’re all messed up. And He’s waiting, with a mop and bucket to clean up your heart.