This week’s blog is from Pastor James Chavez.
We have all heard the phrase, be true to yourself, be who you are. But the difference between what we present to others and who we are can sometimes be worlds apart.
I recently had the “pleasure” of visiting the DMV, or as some call it, an excellent alternative to a root canal, lol. But the DMV is full of life lessons. Let me explain.
DMV Experience – A Place of Patience and Peculiarity
Visiting the motor vehicle department can be quite an ordeal. It’s a place where patience is tested, from waiting for seemingly endless numbers to be called to the unpredictable order in which they’re announced. It’s a unique blend of boredom and confusion but offers moments of reflection and humor, especially when getting your driver’s license photo taken.
The Driver’s License Photo Dilemma
Have you ever had to show your driver’s license photo and felt the need to explain why you look the way you do in it? We’ve all been there. The process at the DMV seems to capture us at our most unflattering. Whether it’s bad lighting, a rushed countdown, or just an off day, these photos rarely show us at our best. And then there’s the awkward moment when someone notices you’re wearing the same shirt as in the photo or you’re entirely unrecognizable. It’s a shared experience that brings both discomfort and laughter.
Glamour Shots: The Idealized Image
On the flip side are Glamour Shots, where everything is about creating the perfect image. The lighting, the backdrop, and the pose are all carefully crafted to present an idealized version of ourselves. These portraits, while beautiful, are as far from reality as our DMV photos. They airbrush out our flaws and present a version of us as unrealistically perfect as our driver’s license photos are unflatteringly real.
The Reality Behind the Images
What’s fascinating is how both these photographs – the unflattering DMV snapshots and the idealized Glamour Shots – fail to capture the real us. They’re extremes, each telling a story far from the truth. The DMV photos might add a proverbial ten pounds or catch us on a bad hair day, but they’re not the sum of who we are. Similarly, the perfection of a Glamour Shot isn’t an accurate reflection either. Both are just snapshots, moments in time, far from our everyday selves’ complex and beautiful reality.
Here’s a thought: neither our DMV photo nor our Glamour Shot is genuinely us. At the end of the day, only God understands and sees our authentic selves. He knows what’s real. And that’s the critical point I want to highlight today: the importance of being genuine in who we are and in our relationships.
Authenticity is crucial if you’re aiming to make a difference and influence others in this world.
Jesus put it succinctly in Luke 12:2, “The time is coming when everything that is covered up will be revealed, and all that is secret will be made known.” Now, that’s a bit daunting. It makes you think about what ‘all’ really means. Do we need a bigger facade to hide behind?
And the big question is, why do we feel the need to hide behind these masks?
Peeling Back the Layers
When we put on a mask and lie to ourselves about who we are, yes, we lie to other people, and that’s a bad thing, but most often, who gets duped and deceived is us.
Here’s what it does when we pretend to be more or someone other than who we are. We skip the process God wants to do in our life to make us who he’s created us to be. We want the shortcut, but God says, “I’m taking you on a process of sanctification. I’m making you more like my son Jesus.”
The Dilemma of Pretending
When we face tough situations, our instinct might be to put on a mask to present an appearance that aligns with what we think is expected of us, like trying to look like Jesus without doing the work God intends for us. This approach skips the essential steps of discipline and accountability, critical components of an authentic Christian life.
Paul understood this, as he points out in 2 Corinthians 2:17. He emphasized sincerity in preaching, knowing God sees beyond our facades. Yet, the question remains: why do we keep hiding behind these masks, especially when we know that God sees all?
The Enemy’s Deception
A significant factor in our tendency to wear masks is the presence of an enemy, Satan, who thrives on deception. Satan, like a roaring lion, is always ready to use lies to attack us. He whispers doubts, making us believe we’re not good enough, and we often listen, forgetting our true identity. Remember, as Christians, we are not defined by our insecurities or failures but by whose we are – children of the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. This identity is something to be celebrated, not hidden.
Embracing Our God-Given Identity
It’s crucial to reject the lies and embrace the truth of our heavenly Father. Ephesians 2:10 reminds us that we are God’s masterpiece, created anew in Christ Jesus to do great things. This isn’t about our earthly accomplishments or succumbing to pride and insecurity; it’s about recognizing and living out our true identity.
In God’s eyes, we are more than just ‘okay’ – we are a work of divine art, a unique creation. Let’s not cover up this truth. Instead, let’s live authentically, aware of our worth in God’s eyes, and reject the temptation to hide behind false masks.
Confronting Our Fears and Masks
We often wear masks to hide our fears and insecurities. You might ask yourself, “Did I compromise?” and then convince yourself that you didn’t, just because you’re wearing a mask that hides the truth. Fear is a powerful force that keeps us hiding behind these facades. Whether it’s facing an inappropriate relationship, secret sins, or even just the fear of not being good enough, especially in a spiritual community, we might even pretend to be something we’re not, thinking that it’s the only way to fit in or feel accepted. But in doing so, we’re only fooling ourselves and missing the point of genuine connection.
The Illusion of Perfection
The truth is, nobody has it all figured out. It’s easy to look at others and think they’re more spiritual, more connected to God, or just better than us in some way. But often, they’re just as scared and wear their own masks. We equate busyness with holiness, thinking that doing more makes us more devout. But this is just another mask, another way to hide our true selves. We must remember that it’s not about how much we know or do but about being honest with ourselves and God.
Embracing Authenticity with God’s Power
Paul reminds us in 2 Timothy 1:7 that God hasn’t given us a spirit of fear but power, love, and self-discipline. This power is immense, capable of breaking down the masks we hide behind.
We can overcome fear, insecurity, and pride as Christ’s followers. We’re called to be authentic, to show the world the masterpiece God created in each of us. Pretending to be something we’re not denies God’s work in us. We’re made in His image, fearfully and wonderfully – no mask is needed.
Let’s embrace our true selves and be the authentic ambassadors of Christ, showing the world not a mask of perfection but the beauty of our authentic, imperfect, God-crafted selves.
Some of us have been wearing a mask for so long. We don’t even see it anymore.
Choosing Authenticity Over Masks
We often become adept at crafting masks rather than focusing on being faithful followers of Christ. It’s crucial to ask ourselves where we’re investing our energy. Are we dedicating it to becoming more like Jesus, doing the good works God has prepared for us, or are we pouring it into maintaining a facade? Imagine the transformation in our lives and communities if we remove these masks and honestly examine ourselves. What would we discover? How much more fulfilling could our lives be if we embraced the authenticity God calls us to?
God’s View Beyond Appearances
1 Samuel 16:7 offers a profound insight into how God sees us: He looks beyond our external appearances and directly into our hearts. While people often judge based on what’s visible, God understands our true selves, thoughts, and motives. This reminder challenges us to reconsider our priorities and the effort we put into maintaining our outward image. It’s not about crafting a perfect exterior or even fooling God with our pretenses.
True discipleship involves actively following Jesus, carrying our own cross, and not just showcasing a superficial symbol of faith.
Embracing God’s Love and Acceptance
God calls us to lay down our facades and be honest. As Christ’s followers, we are already fully loved and accepted by God, just as we are. There’s no need for pretenses or illusions. We’re created as masterpieces, not to be hidden behind masks. It’s time to let go of the enemy’s lies that we’re not good enough or need a mask to be accepted.
God’s approval and love are ours without conditions. Let’s celebrate and be grateful for this liberating truth, knowing that in God’s eyes, we are more than enough just as we are.
Heavenly Father. I need you. I’ve tried to fix myself, and I can’t. I lay down the mask. I acknowledge I’m a sinner in desperate need of a savior. You died on the cross, becoming my sin, taking the punishment, and paying the price I couldn’t pay. You’re offering me a free gift. Now I accept it. Come into my life, change me, transform me, make me brand new, make me accepted, make me loved. I’m yours, father. Thank you for new life. In Jesus’ name, I pray, Amen.
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