Ever see the movie, Catch Me If You Can? It is the story of Frank Abagnale, Jr. (played by Leonardo DiCaprio). Frank, before his 19th birthday, forged millions of dollars’ worth of checks to fund a fraudulent lifestyle. He lived for a time posing as a Pan Am pilot. He actually was hired to work as a doctor in a hospital. He managed to pass the bar exam without an education and was a legal prosecutor until his fake identity was revealed. He was so good at his game that he was able to win accolades for his work! But, eventually his lack of credentials and qualifications would become obvious and he would run, only to take on yet another identity. After he was finally arrested, the FBI gave him the opportunity to work with them to detect fraud!
Knowing ourselves, honestly, is one of the most difficult things in the world. Facing the ‘real’ is nearly impossible for some. In our digital world it is possible to create an image that is a far cry from real. Our Facebook timeline can be edited to include only the wins of life, the profile photo retouched to take off 15 years, our ‘friends’ list lengthened by inclusion of people we met once at a conference 10 years ago!
The question is an important one.
Are you actually that person you try to make others believe that you are?
Living truthfully is a key choice in the pursuit of true freedom. When we are authentic; owning our successes and failures, grasping the strengths and weaknesses, using the gifts that God has given us without coveting those of another, we are liberated from that awful ‘need to succeed’ that drives millions. Jesus says, “You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.” (Matthew 5:5, The Message)
We need not adopt an attitude of apathy, nor should we confuse ‘contentment’ with laziness. Ambition, for the glory of God, is an admirable trait. The Lord is worthy of our best and highest efforts in life. However, it is hard to learn to measure our best without comparing ourselves to others which is a path that leads too often to image building and pretense. We tend to look around for approval and acceptance, don’t we? From the earliest days of schooling we get report cards and take tests that rank us based on our achievement in the class. Our God will never do that! He sees us for who we are and asks that we live for His glory, using the gifts and opportunities presented to us to please Him.
I need to remind myself… and I’ll remind you … of this liberating fact:
The One who knows you best, loves you most!
Yes, He wants us to deal with our sins, to develop our gifts; but He does not want us to lose ourselves to the pressures of performance laid on us by our world. Here what we must remember. He has prepared a place for YOU and ME in His world and the Church that no one else can fill. He has uniquely equipped you to be a part of His faithful people who are sent to change the world. Paul was inspired by the Spirit to teach us that “God’s various expressions of power are in action everywhere; but God himself is behind it all. Each person is given something to do that shows who God is: Everyone gets in on it, everyone benefits. All kinds of things are handed out by the Spirit, and to all kinds of people!” (1 Corinthians 12:6-7, The Message) Believe it and you will be able to get real, be honest, and become beautiful in His purposes.
Here is a word from the Word. Let this wisdom remove the pressure to ‘be somebody’ from you, an invitation to serve the living Lord authentically. “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will know what God wants you to do, and you will know how good and pleasing and perfect his will really is. As God’s messenger, I give each of you this warning: Be honest in your estimate of yourselves, measuring your value by how much faith God has given you.” (Romans 12:2-3, NLT)
Honest to God. The best way to live!