Don’t Tell Lies for Jesus

There’s a phrase I’ve been practicing in the mirror lately.
It’s not easy for me to say but it’s often the simple truth.
Here it is, ready?
Wow, it’s even hard to write.
Okay, the phrase is:
“I don’t know.”
Why I have to practice this is because it feels unnatural after years of always believing I have to have an answer.
Maybe somewhere along the line I twisted the application of 1 Peter 3:15 “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.”
That’s what the Bible says but I believe what my brain heard was: “Always have an answer for everything in Jesus’ name.”
But, that’s a lot of pressure, dude. I mean, seriously, who has all the answers for everyone all the time? Not even this Siri chick who’s so popular has all truth.
Part of the hard work of growing up in Jesus, of maturing, is sorting through stuff other well-meaning Christians have told you along the way
and casting the lies and half-truths over the deck rails of your mental sailboat.
Like sifting through souvenirs and artifacts we’ve gleaned at every port in our journey and finding that we’ve also contracted the occasional worm or fever or been sold a worthless trinket passed off as treasure.
Sunday school teachers are big liars.
Okay, that’s not entirely fair but I’ve had Sunday school teachers, I’ve been a Sunday school teacher, and I have best friends who are Sunday school teachers, so I know something of what I’m talking about here.
It can be brutal facing a cramped room full of antsy children armed with glitter glue and Popsicle sticks.
And there’s always that kid who’s never satisfied with the simple story in the lesson. He keeps poking and asking until you’ve honestly reached the end of your own understanding
but you can’t really say that because he’s -well – six and you’re in the front of the room and it can’t be possible that a kid wearing Disney underpants has managed to deplete your Biblical understanding in eight questions or less
so, you punt.
You tell him something – anything- kids barely listen anyway and he’s young and there’s plenty of time for next year’s teacher to do the fine-tuning, right?
For years, I was haunted by stories told me by well-meaning Sunday school teachers. (I don’t know. Maybe I was that six-year-old with all the questions.)
For instance, for a long time I believed that when we arrive in heaven, our lives will be shown on a gigantic movie screen – in their entirety – not a moment unrevealed – while everyone in the universe watches.
Let me tell you, I didn’t sweat out the fact that God would see my flick, for Him it would be a rerun but I truly trembled at the idea of my mother watching it all!
Thanks to my kindergarten Sunday school teacher.
Finally, at some point, I cast that lie overboard.
Then, a later Sunday school teacher, in trying to compel us to always choose the right way – God’s way- so we would remain “in the center of His will and be blessed,” explained to us about a special blessing room in heaven.
He said that when we get to heaven, God will lead us to a room full of all the blessings He had planned for our lives. Most people, he said with a smile, will find millions of undelivered blessings,
undeliverable due to our disobedience, and for our first few hours in heaven we’d be subject to understanding all we missed out on due to our bad choices.
Suffice it to say, heaven lost much of its appeal for me that day.
Another story that got the heave-ho, but not until it haunted me and bound my freedom in Christ for years.
I don’t hold anything against these people. I suppose at one point, someone had lied to them, too, in Jesus’ name – from a pulpit or at a dinner table or in a classroom –
all because they hadn’t practiced saying one simple truth in the mirror:
“I don’t know.”
And, I’m sure I’m guilty of punting at times when faced with a Biblical question for which I had no answer.
I hope I’ve never concocted any whoppers on the scale of my old Sunday school instructors but if I have and you’ve been the recipient, please feel free to haul it over the side of your own ship.
We need to be faithful to study God’s word and diligent in getting to know Jesus but life is big
really big
and complicated
and it’s going to get more complicated going forward
so none of us can possibly have all the answers to every question for every person all the time.
Which is why that phrase – “I don’t know” – is key.
First, because it’s honest.
Second, because it’s a great antidote to arrogance.
Third, because it’s honest.
Fourth, because it invites the person asking the question into the adventure of seeking God.
Maybe, the best answer is, “I don’t know. Why don’t you ask God and see if He’ll tell you the answer to that one?”
And please, no matter how much pressure those annoying question-asking rugrats place on you, resist the urge to lie in the name of Jesus’
because I promise you, they are listening.


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    The Conversation

  1. Helping God “fill in the blanks” is the foundation of every cult.

  2. Actually, your old teacher may not have made up that “Everybody watching every minute detail of your life” story at the spur of the moment. I was taught that by people who actually believed it…

  3. Great stuff, Lori.

    Even though I’ve believed and practiced “I don’t know” quite a bit lately, I recently and mysteriously ended up teaching Children’s Church on a weekly basis. It doesn’t hurt to have this reminder fresh in mind. 🙂

  4. Ginny Jaques says:

    Childrens’ misunderstandings aren’t always because SS teachers are lying. Sophia told me this morning that her lesson was about when Jesus changed water into beer. I’m pretty sure the teacher didn’t tell her that.