Sermon Illustrations

THE STATUE THAT LIES

In the book, "The Day America Told the Truth," 91% of Americans admit to lying regularly. 86% of Americans routinely lie to their parents. 75% admit to lying to their friends. 73% admit lying to their siblings. And 75% admit lying to their spouse.

None of this is new news to anyone--we live in a society where just about everyone considers it normal to lie. In fact, I've found that one of the more difficult things to accomplish in discipling new adult believers is to get them to abandon lying as a normal acceptable way of life. Before coming to Christ most people embrace lying as a necessary survival skill in today's world. And I think that everyone knows this. We all know that just about everyone lies. So as a result our nation has developed a healthy sense of skepticism. No one accepts anything at face value. If it sounds too good to be true--it probably is. And when promises are made to us, we're told not to get our hopes up because we will likely be disappointed.

On the screen there is a statue you will see if you visit Harvard. After you get over the thrill of saying, "You can't pahk your cah in Hahvahd Yahd," about 30 bazillion times, tourists love to walk through the Yahd and have pictures of themselves taken with the statue of John Harvard whose foot you are supposed to rub for good luck. The statue stands right in front of University Hall. What many people don't know, however, is that it's really "the statue of three lies."

The inscription beneath the statue reads John Harvard, Founder, 1638. Not of word of it is true. Despite what the plaque on the statue says, Harvard didn't actually found Harvard. The college--it was a college back then--was founded in 1636, not in 1638, by the Massachusetts Bay Colony in what was then the village of Newtowne and later became Cambridge. John Harvard was a benefactor for the college and it was named for him in 1639 after he donated his library to the school. Even worse, that's not actually John Harvard sitting there. There were no pictures or images of him. So in 1844, the sculptor, Daniel Chester French, randomly chose a student as his model and dressed him in seventeenth-century garb. French did give the statue skinny legs, because that was one symptom of tuberculosis, which Harvard had. So in spite of what the inscription claims, John Harvard was not the founder of Harvard, the university was not founded in 1638 and the statue's likeness is not even of its namesake! All this in front of Harvard's University Hall where the motto is ironically, "Veritas"--truth. Things are not always what they seem.

Like the Harvard motto, the Bible also claims the title "Truth." But unlike the statue of John Harvard, the Bible does not give us a false impression of who God is.

(From a sermon by Tim Vamosi, Total Authority" Sword of the Spirit -- Part Two, 1/4/2011)

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