If you believe a lie, you empower the liar.
In that first reading we heard, the Israelites are wandering around in the desert — And they’re wandering around believing a lie.
What was the lie they believed?
They believed that they were alone.
That no help would come.
That they’d DIE out there of dehydration in the desert.
Now, we should remember — this is the same exact group of people who just saw Egypt brought to its knees by signs and wonders from Heaven. The Red Sea was literally parted right in front of their faces. They felt the dry floor of the sea with their own two feet! They saw the pillar of fire and cloud with their own two eyes!
But for some reason, they were living according to a lie: “We are alone. We are isolated. There is nobody to help us. God has abandoned us.”
Thankfully, Moses was not living according to that lie!
Because when the people grumbled and complained to him, he remembered that he was NOT alone… and NOT abandoned… Moses immediately turned to the Lord: “Lord! What shall I do with this people?” he asks.
And the Lord replies: “Strike the rock!”
In other words: Don’t believe the lie! Reject it! And claim the Truth you already know — that I am God. That I’m on your side! That Water WILL gush forth… even in the desert! You will not die of thirst!
I will give you the Water you need.
I ask all of you here today: What lies — about the Lord, and about other people, or about yourself — What lies are you still believing?
Because if you believe a lie, you empower the liar!
Dr. Bob Schuchts, director of the JPII Healing Center down in Florida and author of the book “Be Healed” — He says that whenever we get hurt. Whenever we experience a wound — someone betrays us or abandons us or rejects us… Whenever that happens, we tend to internalize and start to believe “identity lies” — Lies about who we are, who God is, and who other people are to us. And we believe these lies…at least initially… in order to protect ourselves. To shield ourselves.
It’s a coping mechanism. It’s like a protective cocoon we try to build around our heart to try and distance ourselves from that wound.
“But,” Dr. Schuchts says, “in the long-term, these lies become part of the mechanism by which our pain gets locked into our body and soul.”
Isn’t that striking? When we believe those lies, the pain actually gets locked in both our body and our soul! And so, we begin to define ourselves by those lies, and end up blocking ourselves off from the Love of God! …The Love we all thirst for… That living water that we all desire deep down.
This is what the woman of the well was attempting to do in her own way.
She believed the lie that nobody wanted to be around her — She believed the lie that she was hopeless. An outcast. A reject — And so she came to the well at the absolute hottest part of the day when she was sure to be isolated and alone.
But then… Jesus decides to meet her. And he starts to do what Jesus does best: He peels away that protective cocoon. Layer by layer.
He takes away all those lies that have been holding her bound. He dismantles them. He’s not afraid of her sins… of her five husbands or the man she’s with right now. He’s not daunted by any of that. He still pursues her and he wants to forgive her and empower her to live a holy life. He doesn’t want to judge her or condemn her…
And as the story unfolds: The woman at the well slowly begins to see the Truth — She begins to see Jesus for who He really is!
And in so doing, she starts to see herself for who she really is.
So she’s able to set down her jug. She runs off into the town and tells everybody about Jesus. She sets down the lies. And believes Jesus instead, who is the Way and the Life and the TRUTH…
What we believe really matters! What we believe about ourselves, and about God, and about our neighbors REALLY matters.
Those convictions — both good and bad — have power over us. And if we believe LIES… well then we empower the liar!
We begin to think and act as if they’re true. And before you know it, those lies will take on a life of their own, and the enemy — who is the ‘father of lies’ — will set up a stronghold in the core of our heart.
I’m reminded of that scene in Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers — where the creature Gollum is having an argument with himself. The evil side warns that the hobbits are just going to cheat and hurt him, like everybody else has. And the good-side replies confidently: “But Master’s my friend!” Then the evil voice responds, mocking him: “You don’t have any friends! Nobody likes you!!!!”
That’s how the enemy — the father of lies — treats us!
That’s how he treated that woman at the well, pressuring her to isolate herself. The devil’s game is to berate us and accuse us until we start to believe everything he says!
But Jesus treats us much differently.
He approaches our soul with reverence. He knows all of our wounds. He understands what we’ve been through. He can see our sins and he can see the effects they’ve had on ourselves and the people in our lives. And He sees all that with perfect clarity and perfect charity.
But he comes with a promise of healing.
He says to each of us: “The water I shall give will become in you a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
And he means it…
And because he really means it, I’d like to take this opportunity to go ahead and expose some of the lies that we have probably been believing… like right now!
Let’s just expose them to the light of Jesus.
Do any of these lies sound familiar to you?
“I’m alone… It’s all up to me… I need to control this situation… Everything is falling apart… I am unwelcome… I can’t do anything right… Nobody likes me, they only tolerate me… I’m a burden…I’m weird… I’m unloveable… I’m forgotten… I’m dirty… I’m worthless. God isn’t listening to me… He doesn’t care about me.”
Let’s make something very very clear:
None of those statements are true. They’re all lies.
And so, right here, in the Name, Power, and Authority of Jesus, we bind, rebuke, and renounce each and every one of those lies! We send them to the foot of the Cross to let Jesus to do with them what He will…
Be free from those lies! Set them down in Jesus’ Name we pray.
And instead, let Jesus define you — Let the Lord define who you are instead. Let the Lord who created you tell you who you really are. In this world so disrupted and so very confused over questions of identity rooted in this idea that we can create ourselves, this is all the more crucial:
Allow Jesus Christ to define who you are.
Not the lies — not the world and all its godlessness and emptiness. Not your own head which is often so confused. Not your past wounds. Not your mistakes or sins. Not peer pressure. Not politicians. Not social media.
Let Jesus define you.
Because He knows EXACTLY who you are.
Jesus knows EXACTLY where you are along the journey
And he’s not the least bit afraid to meet you there at the well.
In fact, He’s already got an appointment scheduled with you.
And if you agree to meet Him there — He will share the Truth with you. The brutal truth about your real and actual sins, yes… sins he died on the Cross to wipe away … but even better news: He will reveal the truth of your deepest identity in Him.
I’ll end by giving you something very practical that you can start doing in your every day prayer life. It’s a tool for you to begin living in the truth of who you really are and who God really is. It’s something called “Declarations.” Declarations of the truth!
I’ll teach you a few easy declarations right now.
Repeat after me:
“I belong to God. I am one of His sheep. I can hear His Voice. And He takes care of me.”
We can also find great DECLARATIONS in Holy Scripture. We heard one in our second reading today from Paul’s letter to the Romans:
“God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.”
God proved His love for us not when we were perfect! Not when we were holy! He proved his love for us when we were DEAD IN SIN.
We need to declare that! It’s the TRUTH! The power of the Truth will disarm and blow to smithereens all of the lies that have held you hostage for way too long. Declaring the Truth will fill us with FRESH HOPE! And Hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
This is exactly what the Lord did in the desert when Satan came to tempt him, isn’t it? Think wayyyyyy back to the First Sunday of Lent:
Satan tried serving Jesus a hot steaming bowl of lies, and Jesus responded with DECLARATIONS of Truth! — “It is written, You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test!”
Thats what the Israelites did when they believed the lie that they were alone — They put God to the test in the desert!
Jesus on the other hand didn’t let that lie have ANY ground… not even an inch… in his heart. So let’s imitate Jesus:
Speak the Truth! Don’t repeat the lies! Jesus didn’t die on the Cross for us to believe a bunch of lies.
Declare the Truth instead!
He wants worshippers who worship the Father in Spirit and in… TRUTH!
And as we know:
“The Truth shall set us FREE!”