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.