” All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players “William Shakespeare, “As You Like It”
For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
It is so easy to put on a good show. Well, maybe not easy, but it seems clear by what I see around me so often that many consider it much easier than the alternative. I find this particularly true for many who call themselves Christians.
Now don’t get me wrong, I know many honest, dedicated people of God who are authentic and who’s true lives are the same lives that you see in public and even online. There are many more, unfortunately, who are working hard to project an image of what they believe they ought to be or work to live up to what they think is expected of them, either by God or church, or whoever.
Our human pride means that all of us like to “polish the apple” a little when it comes to ourselves. It is natural to try to put our best foot forward and to be a little extra charitable in our self-explanations. What is unfortunate is how this quickly can become an act, a performance, a false front that we show the world to seem more noble, more spiritual, more vituous that we really are.
And therein lies our danger. When you are performing, rounding up, putting forth your best image in lieu of showing your true self, you are always in danger of being unmasked. This is why sometimes “preachers kids” can be bitter. When the view of their father at church and around others is at odds with the man who they live with at home when the mask is dropped, they are turned off to the message of the “church dad” as they know it to be a performance.
An alternative is to be REAL. This is harder on the ego but easier in the long run. It requires that you work on one person, not one image. That means actually being ready to die to self, being honest about your failures and sins, your short-falls and weaknesses. This can be brutal on your ego but marvelous for the work of God in your life. My personal experience has been that as I am honest with my wife about my fears, insecurities, and struggles, my bond with her grows stronger, her patience with me and her mercy towards me grows greater, and my ability to face the worst parts of myself in Christ is more real. In the same way, I have found that I can parent my children more effectively by pointing out my own struggles as a guide to them dealing with their own. As I confess my sins to them, I can more effectively help them confront their own sin and selfishness. This also means that the Dad they see in church is the exact same man that they spend time with at home. They have even heard me confess my failures at home to the church. This means that when I speak the truth of God’s Word at church, they don’t have reason to doubt my honesty.
Sadly, there are many who name the Name of Christ and yet are still putting on a suit of spirituality when the occasion calls for it, but are hiding a lot of mess underneath. That calls us back to Psalm 51. God doesn’t want a big showy performance or an elaborate act of sacrifice. He wants brokenness. A broken and contrite heart will not be despised. Time to drop the act, start killing that pride, and be real.