I don’t often get theology from television shows, particularly a show like House. But Dr. House has a helpful saying when we are trying to understand why the formula works for some people.
You know what I mean. “Ever since we began studying the Bible early in the morning the discipline issues in our home have stopped.” “Our children love to do their chores.” “They always eat joyfully whatever is set before them.” “No one complains at our house.” “Our children made a commitment to stay pure by xyz method and their first kiss will be at the wedding altar.” “If you just follow the “teacher’s” teaching, your home will be righteous and happy.” “No, we never argue. Our marriage is wonderful ever since we went to this conference.” “All my struggles with sin went away when I started doing this.” The testimonials are endless.
But, when you try the same things they did, nothing happens. No changes. The wonderful conference, the new commitment, the great habit, the superior teaching—all of these are parts of formulas guaranteed to work. At least they seemed to have worked for so many others. Why don’t they work for you?
Well, as Doctor House would say, “Everybody lies!” Yes, that seems like a pessimistic outlook. Yes, it may be an overstatement. But it explains what we have experienced. The formulas don’t work for us because the formulas don’t work. The testimonials are not true.
Why do people lie about these things? Some lie to cover up their failure. They believe the formula works and they cannot admit that it didn’t work for them. Like the emperor’s new clothes, their “success” is imaginary. But they don’t want you to know that. They want you to respect and honor them. They want to be better than you. So they lie.
And some lie because to say that the formula didn’t work seems like blasphemy. They want so badly for it to work that they “name it and claim it.” Never mind what they see. Never mind the failures. The formula is working and they will promote that success.
Some lie because they are part of the promotion. They have a vested interest in getting you to the conference or doing the activity. They look good when they bring friends or they believe God will somehow reward them with the success they seek. Like the “honest” review online about the weight loss product (the one where the product is sold on the same website) the buyer should be aware of the compromised position of the one giving the testimony.
I am increasingly convinced that lying/deception is an integral part of legalism. As long as performance is the key to spirituality, the lie will be present. It has to be . . . because the formula doesn’t work.