Where a Lie Can Take You
There’s an old country saying: “A lie may carry you far, but it can never carry you home.” It’s probably from the Farmer’s Almanac, but it sounds like a Biblical warning from Proverbs, “Those who gain treasure with lies are like a drifting fog.” (21:6)
A resume fabricated by the kind of pathological lying that carried his hero to the White House, carried George Santos all the way to the House of Representatives.
But Santos’ phantasmagorical life story is already a drifting fog in the sunlight of facts. He’s like a solitary phantom, sitting alone in the House or avoiding reporters in the hallway. His name has become fodder for late-night comedians, social media meems, and politicians who couldn’t care less about what is true or false so long as they have his vote.
It’s easy to be fascinated or infuriated by his story, but it makes me very sad. Who really is he? What makes a person live with a lie rather than with the truth of who he actually is? And how are we all, to one degree or another, like him?
Who Really Am I?
Every one of us has a deep longing to know who we are and to be known by others. According to scripture, it’s part of the image of God within us that gets damaged or distorted by the infection of sin.
Sometimes that reality gets lost of the fog of things we’d prefer to forget, deny or ignore.
Sometimes it gets marred or disfigured by systems of bigotry, racism or economic injustice.
Sometimes it gets injured by the cruelity of others.
Shakespeare got it right when he had Hamlet say, “To be, or not to be, that is the question…” Our growth toward healthy maturity is always rooted in a constantly growing awareness of who we are at the deepest core of our being.
A long-time friend bore witness of this when he posted, “Facebook is a very flawed platform but even with those flaws I continue to go to it most days because it lets me continue to share with people who I am today and who they are.“
It appears that George Santos has settled for fiction rather than fact; an imaginary identity rather than a real one. Perhaps he never read Shakespeare or scripture.
“You Are My Son…”
Two weeks ago churches that follow the liturgical calendar remembered the baptism of Jesus. The story builds to its powerful, identity-affirming climax.
As he came up out of the water, he saw the heavens split open, and the Spirit coming down upon him like a dove. A voice came out of Heaven, saying, “You are my dearly-beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased!” (Mark 1:10-11)
When we celebrate baptism, it’s much more than simply remembering a past event in the life of Jesus. In the traditional liturgy for baptism, the pastor speaks to the congregation, “Remember your baptism and be grateful.” It’s a present tense invitation to listen again for that same voice of God saying to each of us, “You are my dearly-beloved child, in whom I am pleased.”
Baptism is the present-tense reminder that whoever we are, whevever we’ve been, and wherever we think we are going, the deepest truth of our lives is that we are a beloved son or daughter of God. It is the truth that sets us free from every lie we tell ourselves or that others tell us. We can face the reality of who we are with all our strengths and weaknesses because we know in a way deeper than any distortion or denial, that we are loved by God. It’s the home toward which only truth can carry us.
Sadly, George Santos has evidently never heard that voice. Or, if he did, forgot it. That can happen to each of us. But if we listen deeply, we can hear again the voice of truth that turns our lies into drifting fog and that will finally carry us home.
Grace and peace,