On Self-Deception

Demosthenes once said, “Nothing is easier than self-deceit. For what each man wishes, that he also believes to be true.”

Listening to James K.A. Smith speak to our Newbigin Fellows this past weekend, I was reminded of the importance of liturgical worship, and one of its core elements – Confession.  It’s why we need church each and every week.  It’s why we blow off worship to our own peril.  Confession invites us to do the most difficult of things – to see our self-deceit.

Paul Tripp says, “The DNA of sin is self-deception.”  And the liturgical Confession of Sin is like truth serum.  It jolts us into seeing ourselves as we really are.

Oh yes, I really did try to pull the wool over his eyes.

Crap, I really did manipulate those numbers.

God, forgive me for continually pointing the finger at everyone else.

Confession requires courage.  Yes, we fear that looking at ourselves reveals a kind of weakness, that we’ll see our real vulnerabilities.  But vulnerability is the doorway to freedom.  See yourself clearly, and you’re likely to gain more than you’ll lose – relationships, integrity, respect.

Sometimes we find ourselves becoming more like Jesus not because we’re good, or because we’ve succeeded, or because we’re doing the right thing, but because we’ve seen the log in our own eye instead of the speck in another’s.  We may feel powerful reciting the narrative we believe about some other screwed up person, but confessing our own deceit invites us into a holy powerlessness, a place where we need Jesus more than we know.

And that’s where we find the greatest freedom.

One comment

  1. Ambivalence exposes our heart’s desire for what we are no
    longer free to enjoy. This causes us to beg the question, “Is it sane to give
    and to receive pleasure in our work or in relationship? What if it ends? What
    if I enjoy you more then you enjoy me? What if your delight in me is bogus?” Or
    worse, “what if I love you and then you die, divorce me, or turn against me?”
    The risk is more than I can bear, so I refuse to open my heart to another
    person who will arouse my desire and then use me or dash me to the ground.

     Ambivalence is the
    enemy of love. The core of love is the capacity to offer ourselves to others
    and to bless them with our presence and our gifts. The dance of love calls us
    to be open to receive from others gratitude and the gift of presence in return.
    Ambivalence kills this reciprocal movement of praise and forgiveness that
    gives, receives, and glories in the wonder of our capacity to touch each other.
    When these basic needs are denied in infancy it is called an attachment
    disorder.

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