We live in a media-saturated culture. Not only is our world saturated with breaking news and buzzing social networks—we’re inundated with commercial advertising that claims to know what we need or desire. To catch our attention, advertisers display colorful, often Photoshopped images.
One of the most effective ways used to convince us to purchase products is through personal testimonies. These ads emphasize that characters are not actors but real persons. Still, underneath the picture is this phrase, usually in tiny letters: “Results not typical.” It’s a disclaimer to dispel any dissatisfaction in case the product doesn’t live up to expectations.
We struggle with this same “results not typical” in Christianity. We hold up one or two saints and say, “Look at the difference Jesus can make.” But results are not typical. People are jaded; fed up with empty claims and puny promises from patriot pastors who use the pulpit to promote politicians and fail to preach a faith perspective that is rooted in Jesus Christ. People are tired of Christians who construct exclusive interpretations of Scripture that fuse and confuse beliefs while repudiating all that is advocated in the Gospels.
We must no longer allow the name of Jesus to be tarnished by charlatans masquerading as Christians.
We must no longer allow the name of Jesus to be tarnished by charlatans masquerading as Christians. We can no longer be associated with ideologies responsible for tearing humanity apart. We cannot continue to cling to hate-mongering dogmas. As the church of Jesus Christ, we must not impart a message that’s like the testimonies of purveyors of material prosperity.
Let us therefore pray: “Dear God, deliver us from liars! They smile so sweetly but lie through their teeth” (Ps. 120:2, paraphrased).
May we be delivered from liars who tell us that without God human beings are basically nice and good, and that despite the presence of sin everyone is born equal, innocent, and self-sufficient. There are liars who promise the world is a harmless place in which we are born free; if we are in chains it’s someone else’s fault; our defects can be corrected with just a little more intelligence, effort, or time. Some liars promote fake peace and exalt the inordinately greedy, predatory, and extortionate disposition of fallen humanity. Some liars use words and deeds to block our Christian consciousness from the realization that what we had assumed as truth is, in fact, lies.
May we be rescued from advertisers who claim to know what we need by selling us shadows to cover God’s image; entertainers who provide cheap joy; preachers who pretend to instruct us in morality; psychologists who offer to shape our behavior and our morals so that we can live long, happily, and successfully without God; religions that preach political traditions and neglect God’s commandments. They endorse the vices condemned by Jesus, holding sexual predators, adulterers, liars, and racists unaccountable.
These liars talk about the world without telling us that God made it; they tell us about our bodies without mentioning they are temples of the Holy Spirit; they instruct us about love without teaching about the God who radically loves us and gave Himself for us.
“Deliver us from liars, God! They smile so sweetly but lie through their teeth.”
Hyveth Williams is a professor at the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary at Andrews University.