Have you ever told a lie? Have you ever been told a lie? Have you ever known that you were being lied to?

I’m sure your answer to all these questions is a loud “Yes!” There are a lot of lies around, but have you ever thought about how many different types of lies there are?

If I were to ask you to guess my age, you would probably say that I am about 60, since most people do. You might now be thinking that statement itself is a lie, but it’s true – honest it is! For the sake of argument, let’s just say that you do think I’m 60.

Now, if I said you that I’m actually just 17, you would know for certain that I was telling a lie. You would look at me. It would be an obvious lie, a blatant lie. This type of lie is easy to spot.

Another type of lie is more difficult to spot, though. It’s the lie which is so close to the truth that it’s believable. If I told you that I’m actually 62, then it’s obviously closer to the truth than me saying that I’m 17 and it’s very close to the age that you think I am. You think I’m 60. I say I’m 62. They’re close, so what I told you could be true. It’s a believable lie.

We have a very fancy set of scales in the house. They’re electronic. You type in your height and age, then you stand on the scales and hold two handles. The scales then do the clever stuff – not only do they measure your weight, but they also measure your BMI, your heart rate, the composition of your weight by muscle, water or fat. Then it uses all that data and calculates your metabolic age. In other words, it tells you how old it thinks your body is! Fortunately, I’m pretty fit, because I do a lot of walking, cycling and I go to the gym and work out with weights. My friendly set of scales tells me that I have a metabolic age of 54! This is another type of lie – the lie which is based on scientific assessment. It’s very believable too, partly because it’s fairly close to the age you think I am, but mostly because there is evidence to support it. This type of lie is the convincing lie

The next type of lie is really difficult to spot. If I told you that I’m 60 – we’ll, there you go then! That’s how old you said I was! It’s the age a lot of people think I am!  That’s it, then! It must be true! This is why this type of lie is difficult to spot – it actually becomes the truth. It’s the true lie.

A variant of the true lie is found on the internet. I read it on Facebook, so it must be true. Enough said. This is the total lie.

Now I have the oddest type of lie of them all. It happens frequently. I get the same reaction every single time. People ask me what age I am. “I’ll be 70 in January,” I answer.  The response is invariably the same and generally goes along the lines of “No way!”  “You are not!” “REALLY???”  “You don’t look it!”

It’s a bit of a family thing – my mum is 93 and looks better than most 80 year-olds. My daughter, who is 39, was recently asked for proof of age when she went for a drink in a pub. Like I said, this one is the oddest of all the lies I have described here, mainly because it’s actually the truth. The problem is that it is difficult to believe, and so the truth sometimes actually becomes a kind of lie. I don’t know if it’s a truer lie, or a faulty lie or just an unacceptable truth.

UK politics over the last 3 years have been worse than I can remember in all of my 17 or 54 or 60 or 62 or nearly 70 years. There have been so many things said about Brexit by so many people that no one knows what is truth. Unfortunately, it’s more a case that the truth is, in fact, lies and therein lies the truth. Politicians have excelled in their general ability to hide the truth, and I think that even they are beginning to believe all the lies they are telling and forgetting all the truths they are not speaking.

We have our part to play in it all too. We can all spot the blatant lie, but then the other types of lies that I have described come into play – the believable lies, the convincing lies, the true lies – and then the one that none of us can accept anymore – the truth itself. When someone says something about Brexit, we judge what we have heard by how it fits into these categories.

But Brexit is just a bit of life. We all make our bed and lie in it. It would help if we got honest with ourselves. I am well aware of the fact that I have trouble working out what makes me feel the way I do about everything. It’s far too easy to blame others – the things they do, say or think. I’m just lying to myself, though. They might be the trigger that sets me off on a rant or a rage, but the truth is that I put the bullets in the gun. The truth is that I’m just lying in wait for them to put a foot wrong.

The truth is that truth is not always acceptable. Truth hurts. Truth often means that we have to do the right thing, or admit we are wrong. Truth is what we all need, but it’s not something we can buy or borrow or steal or make. It’s what makes us us. If I live a lie, I’m not me – I’m a lie pretending to be me. If I live the truth then I can be free to be me.

And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. (John 8:32)