“He’s a liar!” Yep, he sure is, and his actions send ripples throughout his life and the lives of so many others.
We were discussing a politician we both knew. But, here’s the rub; this politician held many of the same values and positions we both felt strongly about. However, this politician had been caught in a public and inescapable lie, and not just any lie, like “I really did finish my homework” but a lie that revealed a real character flaw in this politician we so very much agreed with on so many things! As we struggled with this disappointment something my mother taught me came to mind “Son, always put your best foot forward.” She meant for me to always show the best of who I am and what I am to everyone. Good advice, especially if you’re a leader!
Modern marketing is based on this foundational idea. We are inundated with commercials and marketing messages that tout this or that product, idea, event, action, as the “must have/experience/possess/believe/embrace” object or idea of the moment. Companies, political parties, even churches, spend millions of dollars each year “promoting” their “products.” And that isn’t bad in and of itself, UNLESS what they communicate isn’t true. And that happens, doesn’t it. It’s like the old saying “figures don’t lie, but liars figure!”
Modern society is littered with the false claims of companies and politicians and leaders of all kinds. Some of the consequences are small, but sometimes the consequences of untruthful claims has devastating effects.
But, can anything good come out of the reality of dishonesty? Let’s face it, we all are either victims of or perpetrators of dishonesty through our lives. We can regale anyone who will listen with stories of “how I got done wrong” by this or that person being dishonest to me or about me, can’t we? And, in moments of deep humility we also have to confess we, too, have made others victims of our own dishonesty, haven’t we?
In our Scripture Lesson today we read one of the classic stories in the Scriptures about an underhanded and dishonest situation, and it’s between brothers no less; two twin brothers! Plus, it has a cunning mother pitting one son over another.
It’s the story of how Jacob, his mom’s favorite, deceived his father (The great Patriarch Isaac) into giving him the blessing of the “first-born son” which should have, by rights, gone to Jacob’s brother and older twin (by seconds) Esau. Read the intrigue in Genesis 27:1-41.
Let me explain, no, let me sum up; it’s too much (which movie quote?): Esau and Jacob are twins born to Isaac and Rebekah, two real heroes of the First Testament. Esau grew up to be a mighty hunter and a real “man’s man.” He was brawny and hairy and a great hunter and outdoorsy type! The truth is he was Isaac’s favorite. Jacob, well, Jacob not so much. Jacob was a philosopher, a bookish boy who wouldn’t have made the football team even if he’d wanted to. Maybe water boy! Guess who was Rebekah’s favorite? Yep, you’re right.
Isaac is now advanced in age and very ill. His eyesight is failing and he knows he is going to die. He calls his “oldest” son to him on his deathbed and makes a request for the now grown son. He wants Esau to go hunt game and fix a final meal for his father and at that meal, Isaac will give his final blessing to Esau, making Esau his heir and the leader of the family. Esau, as the dutiful son, obeys his father.
Now Rebekah overheard this conversation between Isaac and Esau and she goes and gets Jacob and tells him to go get two lambs and bring them to her and she will fix a wonderful meal for Isaac and they hatch a plan to deceive the old man so Jacob can get the blessing as head of the family instead of Esau! And it works!
Needless to say, Esau is not happy! This sets up a very dramatic story in the First Testament later in their lives when the estranged brothers meet again after decades of separation, but that’s for another time.
Let’s face it, you and I will live lives that will have moments of real pain, real disappointment, and real challenge. We will be lied about, and, if we’re honest, there will be times we are less than totally honest. We will face the consequences of these challenging times. And how we face these moments in our lives reveals both our strengths and our spiritual needs. The wise person of faith will pay close attention to the insights of these moments and won’t be captured by the temporary pain that threatens to intoxicate us at these trying times.
The person of faith will rest in the sure knowledge that all events in this life are temporary, even (especially) our suffering. The wise person of faith will rest in the sure knowledge that both judgement and justice belong to God alone, because all our judgement and ideas of justice are polluted with the power of vengeance and short-sighted thinking. The person of faith will embrace the wisdom of Great Lent and know that, even though humanity poisons itself with plots of revenge and forgets that the person who goes seeking revenge should “dig two graves”, the Lord of the universe faced being treated unfairly with these words “Father, forgive them; they do not know what they are doing.”
We are approaching those days where we will walk with the most mistreated Man in history and we will go with Him through the heady days of Palm Sunday where “everyone” loved Him to the dark moments when “everyone” wanted Him dead. BUT, we won’t stop there. We will stay with Him even as He lies in the tomb and we won’t give up on truth or hope because we will come to that “moment” when all injustices and mistreatments vanish in the flash of glory, love, and hope when we hear the NEWS of His resurrection.
Today, as we approach those wonderful and beautiful days of Holy Week, let’s realize that all of us have brokenness in our lives, and the very purpose of all this Lenten labor is to apply the spiritual medicine of our Orthodox faith to those broken places and watch as God’s grace heals us and makes us like Himself. Nothing less and nothing else will ever make us Orthodox on purpose!