Wax noses

Centuries ago, Puritan theologians charged their opponents with treating Scriptures like a “wax nose.” Truth can be pliable, like an actor’s face reshaped for a Shakespearean play.

Is it still a problem? Of course. And not just in religion. It’s true of advertising, news-making, and identity-building. It’s summarized in Jeremiah 17:9, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” Everyone is infected. Starting with Adam.

Jesus, by contrast, offered himself as “the truth.” Truth was his way of life as he opposed his archenemy, “the Liar.” Jesus warned, “there is no truth in him” [Jn 8:31-59]. Yet Satan’s disciples are legion—little gods who dismiss the true God. All busy shaping weird wax noses.

Now let’s shift metaphors. Spiritual lies are a soul-blinding fog, so we all need spiritual radars. I’m thinking of pilots who use a radar to land on foggy days. Jesus gives us a similar benefit—Spirit-illuminated Bible truth. “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me” [John 15:26]. Later, on the same night, Jesus prayed for the disciples to the Father. “I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth” [Jn 17:15-17].”

Now let’s combine our mishmash of images to suggest a useful spiritual pathway. The “evil one” has a remarkable capacity to distort God’s truth. He’s the ultimate liar, and inspires the souls he rules, as “the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived…” [Eph. 2:2-3]. But with the Spirit of truth dwelling in us we navigate the blinding clouds of a fallen culture. And we can recognize wax noses when we see them.

Foremost here is a realization that most human values are upside-down. Or broken. Culture urges us to seek our own success; while the Bible urges us to treat others as more important than ourselves. The world calls on us to chase comfort. Jesus invites us to a crucified life. We’re invited by friends to enjoy entertaining fantasies. But Scriptures call us to meet real world needs of the poor, the lame, the blind, and the hungry. To dismiss posturing in favor of authentic love.

There’s no end to the contrasts we find in the Bible. But the big question is whether we want to fly our spiritual journeys with a spiritual radar. If Christ is in our hearts by the Spirit, with his word offering sound guidance, we begin to make new choices. We ask, inwardly, “Lord, is this a healthy way to spend the evening? Will it make you smile?” Or, perhaps, “Is this choice likely to help my family grow?” Faith-driven questions really do draw his gentle, clear answers. Try it if you haven’t already! The practice offers an active radar to guide us into Christlike values.

Finally, think about how wax-nose-living makes a difference in life over time. We can get used to distorted images. Both our own self-distortions if we pretend to be different outwardly from who we are inwardly. And as we wander in the fog of the great Liar’s values that despise God’s ways. The next verse of our earlier Jeremiah 17 text calls for this: “I the LORD search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.”

One more image for us to add to our mashup of metaphors. We move through life one step at a time. The Bible invitation for believers to “walk worthy” of our call to Jesus assumes we’re drawn to what he represents. We love him because he loves us. So, let’s abandon waxworks and walk in the love that first shaped us in our mother’s womb. That still grows as we abide in his word.


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