Its normal this time of year. Many embrace the idea of pretending to be someone, or something, they’re not. We virtually celebrate kids’ use of imagination and dress-up with the purchase of costumes and related paraphernalia. Hundreds of costumed superhero’s and cartoon characters attended the CBC Trunk or Treat event and, as I write, kids are starting to beg their parents about getting dressed up for the annual door-to-door candy parade.
Imagination and even pretending really is a great thing. It’s fun and we all benefit from the creative ideas of those with great imaginations. There are some owners of inventions I’d really love to thank: indoor plumbing, microwaves, roadside reflectors and rumble strips, just to name a few.
Of course, God is the ultimate inventor; we just enjoy playing games with His creation. But there comes a time when pretending is not okay. When the fun and games are over, we have to be real with ourselves.
Think of Adam and Eve in Genesis 3. They had just really messed up and introduced sin into the entire human existence. They hid, twice, with fig leaves (v7) and then in the trees (v8). God called out to them asking, “Where are you?”, but He wasn’t asking to learn. He knew all about where they were and what they were hiding. He asked so that Adam and Eve would, shall we say, face reality and stop pretending.
There’s lots of ways people hide in the church. There are some who pretend to care. It’s easy to say, “I’ll pray for you”, or “Please let me know if I can do anything for you”, but do we really mean it? Do we really take time to pray or minister to those in true need?
Some pretend to have no problems. “Hey, how are you?” “I’m really doing great. How about you?” But then, in more personal conversations or written on prayer cards, their burdens are quite evident.
Some pretend to really have all the answers as though they were spiritual giants. But the hardened façade eventually crumbles under the pressure of sin and spiritual warfare.
Some even pretend to be Christians. That scares me the most.
Please don’t think I’m casting stones and pointing fingers here: I’m guilty of most of these. In fact, as one who has been in church virtually all of my life, I know the social expectations: I know how to “act right” in church. What I find very humbling is that many of us could continue in our current activities without truly depending on God at all. In other words, we could carry on such a show that each and every time we arrive at church folks would think we’re walking closely with the Lord. We can say the right things. We can teach the right things. We can sing, and greet, and serve, and shake hands … and then just go back to our hiding place.
In Mark 7:6, Jesus said, “This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.” That gets personal. Every day, I am in need of taking off my masks, being real with myself and others, and honestly confessing my sin. Every day, I need to recognize my weaknesses and dependence on God’s provision. Every day, I need to turn to Him, thankful for His mercy and grace, thankful for His sovereignty and love, thankful for His salvation and plans. He doesn’t want or need what I pretend to bring to the table: He just wants the real me.