We slide into believing lies so easily. I’ve always had a very sensitive conscience, feeling the pain of guilt (including false guilt) and conviction quickly. Telling lies has never come easy, even when it would save my butt, but believing lies has been effortless. We marinate in them daily.
I’m immersing myself in the gospel of John these days, and one of the key themes in that book is that we live in an upside down, or backward, world. What people think is light is actually darkness, and what people see as darkness is actually light. Good is bad, and bad is good. Right is wrong, and wrong is right.
Jesus lived before His Father, not before men. That meant He was targeted, lied about, hated, and ultimately murdered. By people who actually thought they were doing the world (and GOD) a favor! Insane, but true.
My daughter was just telling me that some of her college courses had the test answers on a website called Quizlet. She could easily go to that site, quiz herself on the actual test questions and answers, and get straight A’s without doing the other work. If she cheated in this way, she would be admired by her professors and fellow students. She would earn more scholarship money. She would save time and energy. On the outside, it would appear to be a good thing.
But she would not be doing the right thing before God.
In my own experience, I could continue to pretend my marriage was healthy and our family was intact and doing well. I would continue to be admired by fellow church friends. I would be “praised in the gates” (by humans) for being a good wife and mother. I would maintain my life-long excellent reputation among people in my circles of influence.
But I would not be doing the right thing before God.
What seems like love would actually be hate. And what now seems like hate – is actually love. Hard, honest, painful love.
Christians believe it is loving to encourage and support chronically hurtful, unrepentant spouses, and many tend to criticize and isolate the spouse who leaves the destructive relationship. But that isn’t love. That’s enabling and empowering destructive sin. From an eternal standpoint, it is reprehensible and has ramifications that reach well into future generations.
What is right is wrong, and what is wrong is right.
Here are some examples in the book of John. Read, and be amazed at how this message is DRILLED into every page of this book. Then read the book for yourself and see if you can find more examples.
- Jesus had strong emotions. Have you ever noticed that religious people shy away from emotions? Like they are bad, or something? God is a very passionate God. His children, filled with the spirit, are passionate children. They may or may not have a personality that is overtly demonstrative of that passion, but they feel it. Apathy is from the enemy, not God. (Apathy is worse than hatred.) Jesus overthrew the money changer’s tables and called them liars and stealers. God made it crystal clear how He feels about liars and stealers in the place of worship. When you get angry about injustice and deception, you are simply acting out of who you are as a child of God. (Be angry, but don’t sin in your anger. Anger itself is not a sin.) But the religious people gnashed their teeth at what Jesus did. You see? Right was wrong and wrong was right.
- Jesus did not trust people. He knew what was in them. But religious people think we should just trust everyone. “Everyone means well. Overlook and cover up the sin. Don’t make assumptions. Forgive and forget.” Blah blah. Jesus was no fool. When we choose not to trust those who have demonstrated that they are untrustworthy, we are being wise, like Jesus. But in many religious circles, right is wrong, and wrong is right.
- People love darkness rather than the light. Which people? The ones whose deeds are evil. They don’t want to be exposed, so they hide in the dark and call it light. Right is wrong, and wrong is right.
- John says that a prophet has no honor in his own country. Jesus experienced rejection for telling the truth, and He understands that galling pain of truth is a lie, and lies are the accepted truth. People who have something to hide will do everything they can to vilify and cover up the truth.
- The Jews hated Jesus because He did incredible, healing things on the Sabbath. He broke their rules. Their rules were right, while God’s law of love was wrong. John points out that the law (like the Sabbath) came from Moses, but grace and truth comes through Jesus Christ. I’ll take the grace and truth from my Savior.
- “While accepting glory from one another, you don’t seek the glory that comes from the only God.” So says our Lord Jesus Christ. If we want to please God, we will be vilified by men. Yes, even religious men and women we may have admired and desired to be in cahoots with.
- When Jesus pointed out the truth that the religious people were looking to kill Him, they denied it. They lied and screamed out accusations saying, “You have a demon! Who wants to kill you?” How many of our abusers have said things like that to us? “You crazy woman! Making up mean crap about me in your silly little head again!” Truth is a lie, and lies are the accepted truth.
- People judge according to outward things, like good grades and a smiling family sitting in a row in church on Sunday morning. But God wants us to judge according to “righteous judgment.” RIGHT judgment. Right. Not wrong. But that’s flipped around in our world.
- Jesus points out that the father of liars – the people that inhabit this upside down world – is satan. When we lie and believe lies, we are doing the will of satan, not God. Our abusers lie, and when we go along with the lies to keep the peace, we are not living out of a place of Truth. (Please be aware that I am not recommending anyone confronts a physically violent person with the truth. In that case, call a crisis hotline and get help.)
- When Jesus healed the blind man, nobody wanted to believe he had been healed. In the face of blatant evidence, they refused to believe it. Then, when the evidence was in their face, they simply raged against it and threw him out of the temple saying, “You were entirely born into sin!” Classic example of deflection and blame shifting. Sound familiar? You confront your abuser with evidence of their sin toward you or the children, and they yell things like, “You are an unforgiving, judgmental, arrogant, assuming woman!” The truth is a lie and lies are the accepted truth.
- Jesus told the religious people that when they said, “we see,” their sin still remained. Why? Because they thought they already saw everything. They believed they had it all together, so they didn’t need to repent. Classic abuser stuff, right? They never do anything wrong. You are to blame for all of it. But the truth is, their sin remains because they have no humility. They never change, because they don’t see why they need to.
- There’s a whole section about the true Shepherd and the hired hands. The hired hands don’t really care much for the sheep. They run at the first sign of uncomfortable junk. Like wolves. So it is in our experience. Women and children are devoured by wolves, but rather than reaching out to draw them close and keep them safe while getting rid of the wolves, they allow the wolves to feast and then invite them into the sheep pen to rest their full-bellied bodies. What is innocent is bad, and what is evil is good.
- Jesus did not walk openly among them once He knew they were out to kill Him in earnest. We, too, have every right and obligation as stewards of our lives to not walk openly among sick, emotionally toxic people. If our Savior can do that, we can. He gave Himself over to them eventually because He came to purchase His own. But His work was accomplished. We do not give ourselves over to them as well, as if there were something more we could add to the work of Jesus Christ. Anyone who says that is deluded and must be dismissed as such.
- Jesus said that if we loved our lives and our reputations and the approval of humans, we would lose it all. But if we died to those things and looked to Him alone, we would be saved and reap a harvest. If we honored Christ, God would, in turn, honor us. Whose honor do you prefer? The honor of self-promoting religious humans? Or the honor of the Creator God?
- John points out that Isaiah’s prophecy about the people’s blindness came true. And then he said a very sad thing. “Many DID believe in Him even among the rulers, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, so they would not be banned from the synagogue. For they loved praise from men more than praise from God.” I’m being excommunicated from my church for speaking the truth and living the truth. They call it a lie, and they believe lies. It’s one of the most painful experiences I’ve ever faced, but this really encouraged me! Lies are truth and truth is viewed as a lie.
- Jesus washed the disciples’ feet, demonstrating that to be a leader means to be a servant. The world has that backwards.
- What the world cannot see, God’s children CAN see! If the world hated Jesus, they will surely hate God’s other children as well.
- Jesus said a time is coming “when anyone who kills you will think he is offering service to God.” I think that has happened to many women. Thousands of women. They have not been killed, but they have been rejected, vilified, slandered, and abused. In the name of God.
- When Jesus was arrested and questioned by the high priest, He spoke truth, and one of the temple police slapped Jesus, accusing Him of speaking disrespectfully to the high priest. Has that happened to you? You speak truth to your abuser, and they punish you for it, telling you that you are disrespectful or a horrible Christian or disobedient to God or worse?
- Jesus sums it up when Pilate questions him: “I was born for this, and I have come into the world for this: to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to My voice.”
So there you have it. Listen to Jesus. He’s got the voice of Truth. Your abuser is a liar if he says things that Jesus would never say. Your church is full of liars if they say things Jesus would never say. You don’t have to listen to them.
I hope you will grasp the bottom line here. YOU CAN SHAKE OFF THE SHAME YOUR ABUSER HAS HEAPED ON YOUR HEAD. Your Savior, Jesus Christ, has also experienced all of those crazy, galling things. And He did it with His pure and holy eyes gazing straight ahead. With style and grace. With strength and love.
When you see your abuser’s hateful face in your own, close your eyes and replace it with the face of Jesus Christ. Up close. His face right up into yours. He is truly there. Always there. And when you gaze on Him, everything flips, and what is right is right. What is true is true. What is pure is pure. What is lovely is lovely. It all makes sense, and you will know that He is working toward that day when everything will be made perfect and whole again.