LIAR, HYP­OCRITE … A LENTEN MES­SAGE?

Some­times I feel over­whelmed by the level of hypocrisy …

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL - By Peter Josie

Lent is a spe­cial time in some Christian cal­en­dars set aside for re­flec­tion and ab­sti­nence. Be­liev­ers are to con­tem­plate that aw­ful death on a cross, which Je­sus suf­fered for their sins. God sent his only Son Je­sus, to be the sac­ri­fi­cial lamb. The pa­gan slaugh­ter of in­no­cent an­i­mals was to be spared at re­li­gious cer­e­monies. Be­fore his fate­ful death he preached the good news of sal­va­tion that chal­lenged the old ways of Moses. An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth was no longer to be the rule. In­stead, Je­sus preached tol­er­ance and turn­ing of the other cheek. It was a new phi­los­o­phy that many had dif­fi­culty ac­cept­ing. His death at the hands of Ro­man oc­cu­piers af­ter he was be­trayed by his own tribe and brethren is at the cen­tre of the Lenten story. Je­sus was tried on trumped-up charges and some who had ear­lier sung hosanna, called for his cru­ci­fix­ion.

The most sig­nif­i­cant part of the Lenten sea­son, how­ever, was not his death but his res­ur­rec­tion and tri­umph over death. With­out the res­ur­rec­tion, Chris­tian­ity stum­bles and falls. Dur­ing his so­journ, as recorded in the New Tes­ta­ment, Je­sus seemed deter­mined to cor­rect the wrongs of the world. He was par­tic­u­larly se­vere on the Pharisees and Sad­ducees, mem­bers of a Jewish sect, that he openly called liars and hyp­ocrites! By so do­ing he raised their anger and ha­tred to­wards him.

Still to­day, peo­ple who set them­selves up as lead­ers and ex­em­plars of so­ci­ety hate to be caught ly­ing or even us­ing the word. Why? Be­cause ev­ery liar is a crook and vagabond! No leader likes to be caught in a lie, or in an act of hypocrisy. That tends to un­der­mine his as­sumed le­git­i­macy. Some lead­ers will go to great lengths to cover up a lie.

It should there­fore sur­prise no one that liars are re­brand­ing truth as fake news. By its re­nam­ing, the liar hopes to trans­form his de­ceit into some­thing less sin­is­ter and of­fen­sive. Again, fake news is be­ing fur­ther re­fined by the ar­chi­tects of de­ceit as al­ter­na­tive facts. What type of per­son is at the root of such de­ceit?

Lately, it’s been sug­gested that the word liar ought not to be used by per­sons in high of­fice. Does the word de­grade the of­fice? Would Je­sus have rec­om­mended the word liar be used on pub­lic plat­forms by politi­cians, but not in of­fice? No one de­nies that a liar is a dan­ger­ous per­son, but to some the word seems more of­fen­sive than the act. Dur­ing Lent we need to re­fo­cus our at­ten­tion on Je­sus and ask: What would Je­sus say to that? Would He have sug­gested that politi­cians de­sist from us­ing the word liar when party hacks choose si­lence to hide be­hind past mis­deeds?

A more prac­ti­cal ques­tion may be: Why do po­lit­i­cal hacks feel so of­fended when their failed lead­ers are ex­posed as liars? The story of the be­trayal of Je­sus may hold a clue. On more than one oc­ca­sion we see those close to Je­sus tak­ing a harder line than Him against per­sons they per­ceived try­ing to get too close or seek­ing to en­trap Him with trick ques­tions. It’s re­mark­able that many writ­ers of the New Tes­ta­ment made ref­er­ence to Je­sus’ dis­gust with liars and hyp­ocrites. We see there that He was tested by the great­est liar and hyp­ocrite of all – Satan. Per­haps the real prob­lem with liars is that they are dis­ci­ples of Satan! Liars are evil peo­ple! Sadly, some of this is­land’s church-go­ing Chris­tians have per­fected the art of de­ceit . . . by their lies and their re­fusal to call out liars for what they are. Lent is a time to re­pent and change for bet­ter.

Liars and hyp­ocrites can­not pro­duce hon­ourable men and women in govern­ment. In the end Je­sus urged his dis­ci­ples, “To love one an­other as I have loved you.” But love and lies can­not co-ex­ist in the same per­son, at the same time. There must there­fore be no place for liars and hyp­ocrites espe­cially in the lead­er­ship spec­trum of the so­ci­ety. And we must not flinch from call­ing a liar, a liar and a spade, a spade! May the empty tomb em­bolden us to love and to speak truth fear­lessly.

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