Why do we have to be Christ-followers who fit in neat little Christian boxes? Why is there so much pressure on us to be good, rather than honest and real? If there were one thing I could tell the church right now, it would be that God hates pretense.
Check out the story from Luke 18:11–14.
The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed this prayer: ‘I thank you, God, that I am not a sinner like everyone else. For I don’t cheat, I don’t sin, and I don’t commit adultery. I’m certainly not like that tax collector! I fast twice a week, and I give you a tenth of my income.’ “But the tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed. Instead, he beat his chest in sorrow, saying, ‘O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.’ I tell you, this sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home justified before God. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
The Pharisee was the “Christian” before Christianity really came about. The hardcore Jews. These people were serious about their religion and, perhaps even more serious about the public perception of their piety. But Jesus constantly criticized this group. If I were being honest, I would imagine Christians in the South (I speak only of what I know) that I have seen might remind Jesus of his old friends the Pharisees.
We feel such tremendous pressure to have it all together. This contrasts the very nature of the church! In this story from Luke, the person justified before God was the sinner! He was the man at the end of his rope, regretting all he had done to grieve God. He had the right perspective. He recognized his failures and his utter dependence on God to save him.
Are you so busy being a Christian that you have forgotten Jesus?
Are you so worried about public perception of your faith that you have neglected God’s perception?
I feel strongly that God just wants you to be you. Share your problems and struggles with your brother. Let them lift you up and pray for you. Let the church be the church! You don’t have to have it all together. I believe God is calling me to live a more real life. He is bringing me to a place of honesty, to invite open, real conversation with believers and non-believers alike. He is changing my need for others to approve of my faith and life choices. Let’s live a real life, all for God’s glory.
“I will not accept your burnt offerings and grain offerings.
I won’t even notice all your choice peace offerings.
Away with your noisy hymns of praise!
I will not listen to the music of your harps.
Instead, I want to see a mighty flood of justice,
an endless river of righteous living.”
God is NOT interested in our show. He hates our pretense. Be real with Him and be real with others. I think you will be surprised at how He shows Himself to you.