Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire!

Little Ways

What if, no matter how hard you tried, even your best ideas and best efforts worked against you? Imagine the frustration when even your most well thought out plans ended up helping the very one you were trying to defeat! And this doesn’t just happen sometimes, it happens all the time, and the best you can hope for is to con some of the people around you into believing that you are really winning, knowing the whole time you’re wrong, and the only tool that has ever worked for you is your ability to deceive.

Did you know this is exactly the situation in our world today? That’s right, all this noise about evil and barbarity and hatred and fear are all con jobs by the evil one to get us to ignore a deeper and more profound truth: Christ is risen from the dead!

To illustrate this power of deceit, look at a recent article in First Things (First Things, 9/11/14) called “Resurrecting the Dead”. In a study conducted by In a recent poll of church-going Americans the Austin Institute discovered a surprising number of these self-identified church-goers doubt that there will be a bodily resurrection of humans at the end of the age. To be sure, there is still a majority of Americans who believe in “life after death” but an increasing number of church-goers and non church-goers don’t believe what the Church has taught since the Bodily Resurrection of Jesus; that we too will receive our bodies again at the resurrection of the dead!

Amazing! This central belief about the very nature of what it means to be a human person – both body and soul – and the very nature of the belief that God Himself took on a real body in the Incarnation is somehow muddled in the minds of even church going believers. The power of deceit is significant when this important element of our faith is ignored or dismissed. And this is precisely BECAUSE it has actual and immediate effects on how I live my life. If my physical body isn’t really the Temple of the Holy Spirit, then it is somehow my “property” to do with as I please. Dangerous and, ultimately, destructive!

Look at our Gospel Lesson this morning in John 11:47-54. I won’t quote the whole passage, so take some time to read the entire pericope (look it up and expand your vocabulary. It’s good for you, just like eating your broccoli!) The passage deals with the close of the Lord’s ministry before He goes to the Cross and His life-giving execution. The leaders of Jesus’ day are lamenting His popularity among the people and their fear that this popularity will incite the Romans to think this is a rebellion and come in and destroy their nation.

“But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, ‘You know nothing at all; you do not understand that it is expedient for you that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation should not perish.’ He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus should die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad.”

Notice first, these leaders were only interested in their own ethnic tribe. They lived and made their choices not based on faith but on fear. They were afraid and their fear drove them to a willingness to “sacrifice” Jesus’ life for the whole nation! Little did they realize that, while the evil one was delighted in their fear, that very decision to work for the execution of Jesus was going to unleash the plan of God for the salvation of, not just one tribe of people, but the whole world! Death was going to be destroyed BY death and God was going to grant life to all who were in the tombs!

Today, the deception of the strength of evil is just that; a lie! If physical death is no longer the ultimate tragedy to befall a human, then please tell me what we have to be afraid of? Of course all that is predicated on your confidence that Jesus really has defeated death, and this defeat is so complete that even this physical body of mine will be reanimated and participate in the victory of Jesu over my greatest enemy – my own mortality! And with this victory, living my life by fear and selfish motives is not just silly, but ultimately will cause me to be raised from the dead and HATE it!

Are you deceived today? Do you live as if there will be no resurrection of the dead and a final Judgement? Are you making choices and setting priorities based on a deluded lie? Or are your choices and priorities informed by the Good News of the Orthodox Faith since the beginning? It really matters what you believe. And all the works of deceit are only the smoke screens meant to cover up the truth that even the devil’s attempt to kill Jesus was ultimately used by God to save the world! As we approach the Exaltation of the Holy Cross this Sunday, let’s look at His Life-Giving Cross as the symbol of victory it really is and let us sing at full, joyous volume “Save, O Lord, Your people, and Bless Your inheritance, Grant victory to the Faithful against the adversaries of the Faith; and Protect your people by Your Holy Cross!” He did, He does, and He will again!

P.S. Don’t forget to listen in this Sunday night at 8PM Eastern/ 5PM Pacific to the new, live call in program Fr. Barnabas will host call Faith Encouraged Live. Just go to www.ancientfaith.com and click the Faith Encouraged Live banner!

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