Liars and Lunatics

“If it is the anointed priest who sins…”
“If the whole congregation of Israel errs…”
“When a ruler sins…”
“If anyone of the ordinary people among you sins…”
Leviticus 4:3a, 13a, 22a, 27a

The other day a friend bemoaned that the Presidential race in the United States leaves us to choose between a “liar” and a “lunatic.” It took me a moment to think through which label fit which candidate best. I decided that they were interchangeable.

As a young man I spent a few years as pastor of a small, rural congregation. One day after Vacation Bible School one of the teachers came to tell me about the lesson on sin she’d given to her class. One of her young charges raised her hand and asked, “Does Pastor Tom sin?”

Yes,” the teacher replied, “he does.”

The girl thought hard for a moment, then asked, “What does he do?”

Oh, dear child. You don’t want to know.

It is human nature to hold our leaders in high regard and to expect more out of them than humanly possible. People are people. Call it whatever you want: human frailty, human nature, fatal flaws,  or imperfection. God’s Message calls in sin. The bottom line is the same. We all do things we know we shouldn’t do. We all fail to do things we know we should do. We all fall short of perfection.

In today’s chapter we continue to learn about the ancient sacrificial system that was designed as a temporary spiritual Band-Aid for humanity’s moral shortcomings. What struck me was that it begins by addressing the priest, who is the highest human spiritual leader in the system. How fascinating that one whom we’d expect to be the most good and spiritual person on the list is given first mention and the longest spiritual prescription. God knows that, despite the faith of little girls in VBS, spiritual leaders are just as flawed as anyone else.

The chapter goes to mention the nation, the civil rulers, and ends with talking about ordinary every day humans. In other words, every level of society both in the civil and religious camps had a prescribed sacrifice for atoning for their own human failings. People are people. We all fall short.

Today I’m thinking about my own failings. I’m thinking of my own need for forgiveness, mercy and grace. I’m also thinking of “liars” and “lunatics” who run for President, and pastor churches, and run businesses, and parent children, and work on the line, and go to school, and teach at those schools, and police our streets, and serve in the armed forces, and play professional sports, and live in the spotlight of fame, and live in poverty.

This morning, an ancient mantra of Jesus’ followers is playing on “repeat” in my soul….

Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us
Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us
Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, grant us your peace

2 thoughts on “Liars and Lunatics”

  1. Well stated, as usual. I also have to give a “thank you” for the excellent sermon you delivered at Celebrate this Sunday. It was kind of funny, several months back when I found your blog and started following it I had picked up on the fact that you were likely from Pella. So, I asked my Pella born and raised wife Brenda (once VanMaanen) if she knew you and of course she did…it is Pella after all. Anyway, fast forward to this weekend and she nudges me in church from a few rows behind you to tell me that was you, then of course Andrew called you up. Anyway, thank you for coming and sharing insights and sharing a piece of your story. Also, thank you for bringing God’s word to the masses through this avenue as well. I enjoy perusing your latest musings as I prepare for my day at work. Have a great day and God bless!

    Eric Goodale

    1. Thanks for letting me know, Eric! What a small world. You should have introduced yourself on Sunday. Would have loved to make the connection. Wendy and I really enjoyed being at Celebrate. Great Spirit in the room and we felt very much at home. As I intimated in the message, it didn’t surprise me given the heart and leadership of Andrew that we experienced at Third. (I hope to be invited back) Have a great rest of the week.

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