The Art of Disguise
by Joy Martin, Set Me Free Ministries Co-founder
This Thursday night children of all ages will dress up and head out into the chilly night air, hoping to come home with enough candy to satisfy their sugar cravings for months to come.
For my daughter Julie, however, dressing up is a regular part of her playtime routine. In fact, whenever Julie and her best friend Marin get together, the first thing they do is head for the dress-up trunk. They can play for hours doing little more than changing clothes over and over and over again. As of late, one of Julie's favorite pastimes is dressing up and trying to trick the family into thinking she's someone else. She's been a princess, a pirate, a doctor, and a puppy, just to name a few. When she first introduces herself, she does a rather good job of staying in character. But my favorite part of this game is the end. You see, just when Julie's sure she's convinced you that she is, indeed, her chosen character, it's time for the big reveal. It's only then that she announces: "It's just me. Julie!"
What Julie doesn't realize, of course, is that I've known it was her all along. After all, I am her mother. In fact, I can't imagine a costume or mask that she could put on that would fully hide her true identity. There would inevitably be some sort of giveaway–a mannerism, her voice, some feature that would make her unmistakable as my daughter.
The other day I read a link on my brother's Facebook wall that made me sick to my stomach. It was a story about a man who called himself a Christian and made a decision to do something in the name of Christ. His actions, however, were anything but Christlike. At a loss for words, I simply commented on the link: "Disgusting! Unfortunately, anyone can call himself a Christian."
I would now like all professing Christians reading this to think about Julie's game and that story in light of their own lives. Yes, even you.
I fear that the word "Christian" is being thrown around in today's society much like the word "love." I love my husband and my children. I love my dear friends. I love the pair of jeans I bought two weeks ago. I love ice cream. Perhaps all those statements are true; however, that love is not all created equal. When I say I love my husband and children, I mean that I love them with a love that is so deep I would put my very life at risk to protect them. But ice cream? Not so much. When I say I love ice cream, I just mean that I think it's really yummy.
The same is true with "Christians." Some Christians are followers of Christ. They understand the amazing gift of salvation, and they live their lives in such a way that God is glorified. But other Christians? Well, not so much. There are some Christians who use the word to describe themselves simply because they grew up going to church every Sunday and were baptized. There are other Christians who proclaim the name of Jesus but have warped His words so much that their brand of Christianity looks little like the Jesus of the Bible. There are extremes on both ends of the spectrum and a whole lot of varieties in between.
But you know what? At the end of the day using the title "Christian" like Julie uses her costumes isn't going to cut it. Just like I know Julie as my daughter, God knows you as His child. He can see beyond the façade, beyond the mask and costume, no matter how good you think it may be. He sees the real us, sometimes even more than we do.
1 John 1:5-10 tells us this: "This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us."
If you call yourself a Christian, I would like you to take the next week and pray about what that truly means. Open your Bible and dive in. Search for what is truly means to follow Christ and then do it!
If you are not a Christian, I'd actually ask that you join me in doing the same thing. Put aside all of the assumptions you've made about Christians and what they believe. Forget about what the world tells you a Christian looks like. Instead, go to the source. People are flawed. God is not. You may be surprised what you learn.