Deception and Discovering the Truth About God
The other night, I had a dream about deception. In the dream, I saw a pile of ancient teachings about God—creeds, doctrines, and affirmations about His nature—lessons about who He is and what He has planned for us. The teachings had been handed down from generation to generation and were regarded as all the truth that could be known about Him.
But there was a problem.
As I looked at the pile of teachings, I could see they had changed over time. I saw what appeared to be layers of hard, translucent, mineral sediment which had been added to them over the centuries. The layers of sediment had the effect of twisting and distorting them so they no longer represented the truth about God.
When I realized what had happened, I took a tool and began chipping away at the layers of sediment. I knew I’d have to remove them if I wanted to know the truth about God. That was the end of the dream.
The dream raises an issue familiar to many of us.
Deception and Fear
Fear comes in many forms. A creepy shadow on the wall or a test for cancer. For many, our greatest fear is being deceived.
What if what the things we presently believe aren’t true?
Fear of deception is widespread. Not because we naturally fear being deceived, but because we’ve been trained to fear deception. Some would have us think that deception is the unpardonable sin. But when we understand what deception is, we can see there’s no reason to fear it. Deception is having wrong ideas about something. And we all have wrong ideas now and then.
I was in an ambulance one night with a patient, driving from Knoxville to Nashville, Tennessee. I had driven for a while, confident that I was heading west. It was only after I saw the signs for Chattanooga that I realized I was going the wrong way. I was not on Interstate 40 driving west. I was on Interstate 75, driving south. I was deceived. And I felt stupid about it.
Ever been in love? The kind of love that seems perfect? You have a “knowing” that they’re the one God made for you. You’re certain that marriage is in your future. And then the unexpected happens. That perfect person dumps you for someone else. And you’re heartbroken.
If you’ve ever been lost or in a relationship that ended unexpectedly, you’ve been deceived. Being deceived can be painful and disappointing. But it’s not the end of the world.
When we listen to a sermon or study the Bible, the purpose is to teach us something we don’t know. To impart knowledge where there is ignorance. Or rather—where there is deception. If we’re not presently ignorant of something—if we’re not deceived—there is nothing about it that can be learned. Learning is replacing deception with truth. We’re all deceived. It’s why we study, and it’s why we’re able to grow in our knowledge of the truth.
We like to guard against deception by embracing teaching that’s reliable. Jesus did warn us to avoid deception. But He didn’t tell us to fear it. Fear can make us cling to things that are false and reject things that are true. God doesn’t want us to be deceived, but He doesn’t want us to be fearful, either. He wants us to be full of faith. Brimming with confidence. Able to embrace the truth. Even if it’s a little weird.
How many of the disciples do you think expected Jesus to raise the dead? Lazarus coming out of the tomb, still wrapped in grave-clothes was a weird moment for them.
How many expected Him to walk on the sea? More weirdness. If anyone says Jesus wasn’t weird, they haven’t considered these Kodak moments in the proper light.
Just because something is weird, doesn’t mean it isn’t God. Just because something has been taught as truth for generations, doesn’t mean it’s true. Scientific exploration has proven thousands of brilliant men to be liars.
I want to share with you the things I’m learning about God. I want to help you discover who He really is and what He has planned for you. Not what people have said about Him over the centuries, but what He says about Himself and what He says about you.
Some of the things we discover might seem a little weird. They may be contrary to traditional teachings. But as my dream indicated, some of the traditions we’ve been taught aren’t true. Maybe it’s time we replaced dead and twisted traditions with a living reality.
I’m not suggesting you throw away your Bible. I’m not trying to start a cult. I’m just an explorer. A sojourner hoping to experience more of the God who calls us His beloved. If you’re willing to walk with me, and if you’re willing to pray for wisdom and discernment, I think we’ll experience things that will blow your mind.
Thanks for joining me on the journey.