Be Real!

Social media is a mixed blessing.  It is a great way to communicate, share ideas, and connect.  It is also unbelievably ‘fake.’ A ‘selfie’ (pictures of one’s self in case you didn’t know) can be taken over and over until just right tilt of the head, sweep of the hair, and smile is in place. That photo can be filtered and adjusted until it is ‘just right.’  It is now known that teens are particularly vulnerable to all of this imagery. 

Millions struggle with inferiority because they feel that they cannot measure up to everyone online looking perfect.  Their ‘flaws’ become magnified in their own mind – too many freckles, wrong color hair, not a perfectly shaped body, etc. Sadly it isn’t just teens who play at this. Even mature adults who ought to know better spend too much time creating an ‘image’ in online interactions – puffing our resume, posting only our successes, attempting to appear perpetually happy and successful. This leads to depression in many cases.

More than a few Christians suffer a similar issue in their spirituality. Our Christian world is filled with celebrities and super-stars whose real humanity is invisible as we know them only ‘on stage,’ through their books, or by their podcast. From that distance their fears, doubts, sins, and inconsistencies cannot be detected.

They look so beautiful- their lives so utterly wonderful.  
By comparison, we are so human.

They change the world, we just try to keep from being mean to our spouse.

Their prayers reflect an enviable friendship with God,
ours are filled with fumbling, uncertainty – is He really listening?

They seem never to be touched by temptations,
we feel the magnetic pull of greed, lust, laziness, materialism –
from the first moments of the day.

At some level, we know that these celebrity Christians are really human, but we want the ‘image’ to be real so badly. If one of them sins publicly, we are shocked and grow angry. Then, we throw away all their books as though what they wrote is somehow less true because we learn they are struggling, imperfect Christians – just like us!

Living authentically as a Christ-follower is a soul-deep thing that isn’t always pretty. Living honestly, confessionally -without pretense- will cause many to turn away from us, disgusted by what they perceive as a flawed soul! The tragic response of millions to this quiet judgment is to create an image.  When we are around other Christians we pray only positive prayers, always smile, never admit to fear or lack of faith,  and we say the right words we feel others expect to hear. The issues of sin, the angst of doubts;  the reality of life, gets covered over with the cosmetics of religion, leaving us with no depth of spirit.

Spiritual superficiality is a curse that Jesus Himself addresses. In the 6th chapter of Matthew, he reminds us to go beyond just ‘looking good,’ which is hypocrisy, to really be good. “Take care! Don’t do your good deeds publicly, to be admired, because then you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven. When you give a gift to someone in need, don’t shout about it as the hypocrites do—blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity! I assure you, they have received all the reward they will ever get.” Matthew 6:1-2, NLT

Paul, in his second letter to the Corinthian church, was confronted with the challenge of preaching the Truth – which sometimes is not so attractive- to people who had been dazzled by ‘super apostles’ who had come through town with their magic show religion, their puffy words, and with their empty promises. He says that the real Treasure is not us,  it is the Spirit IN us!

God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made us understand that this light is the brightness of the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ. But this precious treasure—this light and power that now shine within us—is held in perishable containers, that is, in our weak bodies. So everyone can see that our glorious power is from God and is not our own. We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed and broken. We are perplexed, but we don’t give up and quit. We are hunted down, but God never abandons us. We get knocked down, but we get up again and keep going. Through suffering, these bodies of ours constantly share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.”  2 Corinthians 4:6-10, NLT

Be real, my friend. That doesn’t mean we have to wallow in our uncertainties, revel in our sins, or live defeated and miserable lives. It means we face up to the truth, both about ourselves and the greatness of our God. Then, with honest confession and true faith, we take hold of our spiritual birthright, allowing the Spirit to shine through us, eclipsing our imperfections with His beauty.

Are you ready to wash off the make-up, admit the flaws are there, and let the real beauty of Jesus be created in your soul?

Yes, there is a real beauty that comes from a genuine, ongoing intimacy with the Spirit of God Who transforms our hearts.

The word from the Word for today encourages us to look up. “So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and in his good time he will honor you. Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about what happens to you. Be careful! Watch out for attacks from the Devil, your great enemy. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for some victim to devour. Take a firm stand against him, and be strong in your faith.

Remember that your Christian brothers and sisters all over the world are going through the same kind of suffering you are. In his kindness God called you to his eternal glory by means of Jesus Christ. After you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation. All power is his forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Peter 5:6-11, NLT)

(Video of this blog at this link)

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Hiding In Thee (Oh Safe To The Rock)

O safe to the Rock
That is higher than I
My soul in its conflicts
And sorrows would fly
So sinful so weary Thine
Thine I would be
Thou blest Rock of Ages
I’m hiding in Thee

Hiding in Thee
Hiding in Thee
Thou blest Rock of Ages
I’m hiding in Thee

In the calm of the noontide
In sorrow’s lone hour
In times when temptation
Casts o’er me its pow’r
In the tempests of life
On its wide heaving sea
Thou blest Rock of Ages
I’m hiding in Thee

How oft in the conflict
When pressed by the foe
I have fled to my Refuge
And breathed out my woe
How often when trials
Like seabillows roll
Have I hidden in Thee
O Thou Rock of my soul

Public Domain
Ira David Sankey

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