Readings: Acts 17: 16-34, Psalm 66: 8-20, John 14: 14-21
In all of God’s creation, there is only one creature that possesses the capacity to lie to itself. Every part of creation will fake, lie, hide and put on because it wants to protect itself from those parts of creation that feed off of it; but there is only one part of God’s creation that will lie to itself and convince itself of something that is untrue. Only humans will tell themselves that something is true when it is not or convince themselves that something can’t be true when it is. Only humans will convince themselves so completely of a lie that they will go to their deathbed regarding the lie as truth and even more than that; they will regard it as a truth upon which they have built their entire lives.
It is incredible what we are able to convince ourselves of if we have to. This ability is the reason we can always be right in the face of opposition from those we try to respect. It is easy to respect them when they agree with us but not so easy sometimes when they disagree with us because we cannot understand how they can disagree with something we think is so obviously true.
The reason I believe that we are able to lie to ourselves is because we are the only part of God’s creation that has the capacity and the need to justify ourselves. We reason with ourselves and we argue with ourselves and we are able to scratch out rationalizations from the nether in order to justify what we are doing. We chase after those desires that we know are inherently destructive to the sanctity of community and we need to convince ourselves that it is the best decision and so we look for a reason to justify it. We have seen this human characteristic portrayed so clearly amongst so many of the Covidiots around us in this season. They do not want their normal to change and so they convince themselves that the situation is not as serious as it is or that they will never get the virus or that the figures for Covid are nothing in comparison to other figures like TB or heart attack or being eaten by a hippopotamus. Whilst other figures are a reality and need to be dealt with in their own right, the figures that lie behind the pandemic we face now are a reality and every single one of us are affected by it. No-one is immune, no- one is safe, no-one is going to come out of this unchanged. We either have to accept this or we have to convince ourselves that it is a lie.
It is because we have the capacity to confuse ourselves about what is good and right and true that God gives us His Spirit. We have an inherent need to be good as God is good and that need is at war with an inherent need to convince ourselves that we are the most important part of God’s creation and so everything should be about our survival. We long to be holy as God is holy, we long to love as God loves, we long to give life and hope and peace as God gives it, but we keep getting in the way.
Christ tells His disciples that He will give them a Counsellor just like Him; the Spirit of truth. The Holy Spirit does not need to justify anything, except us. Christ comes to justify us when all along we are trying to justify our own actions. The Holy Spirit is not as confused and as bewildered as we are and it is the Holy Spirit that will guide us in everything that is good, and right and true. The Holy Spirit will teach us how to love and that is what God’s command is. Love. Love God. Love each other.