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by Jacob Ninan

A book came out from Tyndale House Publishers in 2010 which was called The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven co-authored by 6 year old Alex Malarkey and his father Kevin. Alex survived a car accident in 2004 after which he was in coma for about two months. The book tells about how he went to heaven and met Jesus. It has sold more than a million copies. But just recently Alex made news when he said that he had never died or gone to heaven! He said that he had not even read the Bible before that and had made up that story in order to get attention. In other words, the book was a lot of malarkey! The publisher has now withdrawn the book.

A curious fact is that earlier from time to time Alex had tried to inform people that there were some things wrong with that story, but no one wanted to hear. A ‘pastor’ told him to let things be, because the book was a blessing to many!

There is no denying the fact that miracles do take place now and then according to the sovereign will of God. But claims of miraculous experiences which have later been exposed have not been infrequent among Christians over the centuries. Several instances have cluttered the history of some churches where ‘miraculous’ occurrences were deliberately engineered to give an impression to the spectators that God was doing supernatural things, with the aim of instilling faith into people’s minds! We know of some modern day ‘healers’ who have used the service of actors to play out the role of sick people getting healed miraculously in front of the spectators, and when they were exposed they have tried to justify it by saying that it was only to ‘create faith’ so that real miracles could follow!

It is one thing when heathen tricksters, charlatans and god-men resort to such gimmicks to deceive people. But we Christians are supposed to represent God here on earth in whom there is no darkness at all (1Jn.1:5)!

We are not unfamiliar with instances where evangelists and organisations exaggerate the numbers of new believers and beneficiaries of their ministries. This is now so common that even when someone tells of real numbers they are received with scepticism and cynicism.

Hoax stories are being passed around through the internet, such as the one about NASA scientists discovering a missing day in the calendar of the earth and then attributing it to the day when God stopped the sun for Joshua. NASA has denied this story. Another famous one is how Charles Darwin became a believer on his deathbed. Of course, this could have happened secretly, but his daughter who was present reported that nothing like that happened.

Now and then the ‘face of Jesus’ (the one drawn up by some ancient artist out of his imagination) seems to appear in a cloud formation, and the hand of God (who has no form—hands, eyes or any other part of a body) appears in a star formation or a cloud formation, and people go gaga over that! If these are treated only as a curious observation and not venerated, it would have been fine. But the appeal such stories have for believers keeps them going strong even after they are exposed.

What are the motives for this kind of lying and falsehood? Publicity? Fame? Money? The sad thing is that the justification being given for these lying schemes and stories is that people may be built up in faith! The end justifying the means? How can cheating and lying build the kingdom of God?

One has to conclude that even when things are being done at the level of organisations or churches, it is the personal agenda of individuals that is behind them. The desire for fame, wealth, power and influence is driving people to misuse the name of God and take advantage of the gullibility of people to take to such measures. Anonymous stories that are spread over the internet may also turn out to be the work of some cynics who are trying to have a laugh at the expense of Christians!

Those who lie and cheat have to realise that nothing escapes the searching eyes of the Lord (Heb.4:13). Every one of us has to give an account of our lives to Him one day. He cannot be fooled with arguments and self-justifications. No one can imagine that he can get away with cheating, lying and pretending, no matter what explanations they may hope to give. Strong desires may blind us to the consequences, but we cannot avoid those consequences nevertheless (Gal.6:7). The Tempter may tell us that no one will know, but there is One who always sees everything that is going on, and who is also aware of the hidden motives and intentions of the heart. No one can fool Him.

It is surprising that even in the midst of carrying out ministries for the kingdom of God people can forget that there is a world to come where we will be evaluated according to what we do here (Matt.16:27). Or do we think that living under ‘unmerited favour’ we have licence to take liberties with falsehood and deceit (Jude.4), especially if we convince ourselves that we are doing it for the others?

How is it in our individual interactions with others in our daily lives? Everyone will agree in principle that we do not have the right to use lies for our own gain. Do we think that speaking ‘white’ lies, pretending and giving false impressions are necessary in order to maintain social propriety or to avoid hurting others? Of course, we do not want to hurt others if it can be avoided. But we also know that speaking the truth in love (Eph.4:15) is what can bless the others in the end even if there is some hurt in the beginning.

God has bought us from the kingdom of darkness and brought us into the light. The king of darkness is the Devil whose nature it is to lie (Jn.8:44). We who claim to be the children of God can no longer afford to associate with the Devil and his nature, whatever justifications we may prepare. We must not fool ourselves by claiming to be children of light and continuing in practice to walk in darkness (1Jn.1:6). “For you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light” (Eph.5:8). God who looks into our hearts must see His new creation growing up inside us, and the people who watch us must see it outside in our behaviour.

-- Editorial in the Light of Life magazine, May 2015

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