Return to the simplicity that is in Christ Jesus.
Someone once told me that there are three personalities to every individual.
1> What you display yourself to be.
2> What others think you are.
3> What you really are.
And most often, number (3) is in private. In other words, what you really do when no one is watching.
What’s the biggest lie in your life right now? Something that is not real about you. Something that nobody knows. But you are managing to put up a very “Christian” front. Are you living a lie? Friends, it is natural for us to try and put up a “perfect” front because we do not want to expose our sins to others, but God’s word says, “Everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard”. Romans 3:23. The amusing thing is that we think even God will not know.
Psalm 139:1 – 4 - He knows everything there is to know about us. There is nothing, absolutely nothing hidden from Him.
Revelation 3:1 – Jesus said to the church of Sardis…you appear to be alive, but I know you…You are dead.
Jer 23:24 - Can anyone hide himself in secret places, So I shall not see him?" says the LORD; "Do I not fill heaven and earth?" says the LORD.
We can so easily portray an image of ourselves, which we actually are not. This world that we live in, and its systems have conditioned us from childhood to master the art of deception. Every Sunday people go to church, raise hands and worship, make an offering, all in the presence of God and go back home without dealing with the real issue of sin in their lives. That is in fact neglecting a major issue. Sin was what separated man from God and sin was the reason why Jesus had to come. Jesus came to destroy the power of sin in our lives so that we can be free from sin and live being “real” without the need for three different personalities.
Church is meant to help you be real. Don't let the hype and glamour of flashing lights, sound, music, posh buildings, elaborate conferences with outstanding performances and eloquent speakers, and coffee shops define your Christianity. Get real. Deal with sin and overcome it. Then you will truly experience the abundant life that Jesus promised.
It can be likened to a person having a box of cow dung or manure in his living room and he goes about cleaning the windows, doors, and tables. He repaints the outside of house and works hard in the garden and builds a beautiful outdoor space to entertain guests. Everyone admires his house and appreciates his success. He feels good about himself and settles down to watch TV. He completely ignores the big box of stinking manure in his living room, because it is too filthy to touch. That would be absurd, wouldn't it? What would you say to such a person? That's right....Get real.
Matt 23:26 – You blind Pharisee! First wash the inside of the cup and the dish, and then the outside will become clean, too.
We communicate to people according to what we want them to think we are, rather than who we really are. That’s exactly what was happening in the church of Sardis… People look at the size of the church, the music, the programs and activities, the conferences and conclude “This church is so loving, so much on fire for God” ….But God sees through it all and knows the reality. Isn’t it? God says, you’ve done great getting the people to think that about you, but here’s the truth...!! "You appear to be alive, but I know you, you are dead"!! (Rev 3:1) In other words, Get real.
I would like to encourage you to examine yourself. Are you real? Does your lifestyle easily blend into the New Testament?
If we were to ask our friends, what do you think of Tom….and write that down. And then if we were to ask God, what He thought of Tom…would that match? Or would the people say much more flattering things about Tom…than God would? If we are more concerned about what people would say rather than what God would, then we are more concerned about our reputation than our character. And we want people to think that we are a certain type of person rather than be honest before the Lord.
Many a times when I worship, I find myself singing, saying the right things, having a smile on my face when people talk to me, I pray for them using the words that I know are the right words to say…be at prayer meetings, and still feel dry and empty on the inside. When that happens, I find myself putting in extra effort to somehow overcome my emptiness and make myself be in the presence of God. I was told to speak in tongues and start praising God and so on. In other words, fake it till you make it, pretending as if God doesn't know how I feel.
I’ve since learnt that when I know Jesus and the gospel of unending grace in Him, then I enjoy a level of intimacy with Him which allows me to be real. I can then tell Him the way I feel and yet know that He still loves me just the same. That assurance not only keeps me real before the Lord but EMPOWERS me to overcome my weaknesses. It is so liberating to know that I can get real before God anytime, no matter how I feel or what I've done. He knows all things anyway. He knows my deeds even before I did them, He knows my thoughts and desires. He didn’t find out about my sinful deeds when I actually did them and He didn’t get surprised either. There's nothing He does not know about me. So, if I get real before Him and speak my heart out, I'm only being truthful. His love is unending. His mercy endures forever. His grace is sufficient...indeed.
When you are not “real” and transparent before God, then you don’t find church, worship and prayer fulfilling. It is because you are not yet free to be yourself before God. When we truly know what Jesus did for us, and when we know that we are now the righteousness of Christ not because of how good we are and how much self-control we have, but because of Jesus' finished work on the cross, and when we know that apart from Him we are really nothing and can do nothing, then we can get real before Him. We confess before Him however we feel, whatever we are…nothing hidden from Him. He knows it all anyway.
When you are real before God, then you can also be real before a brother or sister whom you can trust. God will lead you to such a person. And there’s much freedom in that confession and also is a mighty witness to the glory of Christ.
This is what confess your sins to one another so that you can be healed, really means. (James 5:16). The alternative is to continue to pretend being who we are and be like the church in Sardis.
When we get real both before God and ourselves, then and only then can we love others just the way they are. And that’s not just the ones who are obvious with their sinful behavior but also those who appear to be good. Because we really don’t know what we don't see. We can then consider everyone else better than ourselves.
Phil 2:3 – Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.
That’s what Jesus meant when He said Love your neighbors just as I have loved you. Knowing ALL there is to know about us, He still loves us. Nothing witnesses more powerfully than being real, because when you are real, all glory goes to Christ for the amazing transformation He has done in you. There is nothing to boast about.
The apostle Paul was highly educated and prided in his accomplishments. He was impressed and quietly boastful of what his peers thought of him. But after He met Christ and his heart was exposed before God, he regarded all his accomplishments as absolute rubbish.
Phil 3:8 - Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ.
People have said a lot of good things about me based on what I “displayed”, but I know that I stand before One who knows ALL there is to know about me. And that doesn't condemn me but helps me be real.
This is what Paul meant when he said “I don’t care who judges me, even when my conscience is clear, that doesn’t make me anything…it’s the Lord who judges me. 1 Cor 4: 3-5
Are you one of those Christians who aspires to be a great leader, or one of those who looks up to someone who is very successful and wants to mimic that person’s success in ministry….or are you one who simply loves Jesus for what He has done for you and want to continuously work on yourself to become more and more like Him? Because that’s really all that matters.
A good test is this. Suppose you had a beautiful place to live in with fantastic views, a luxurious 5-million-dollar home, no financial difficulties, no debts, a genuine comfy life and everybody loved you and thought highly of you, but you had no God, no Jesus, no salvation…would you be content?
It’s easy to be accepted by people and go with the flow. But the rubber hits the road when we really want to be what Christ was like, become honest to ourselves and overcome sin in our lives. That’s Christianity.
The only way people will know that you are genuinely a disciple of Christ is when you love them genuinely, without expecting anything in return. Accepting them just the way they are. And that is only possible when you are honest to yourself and to God and are real without putting on any fake façade. Being real does not mean you have to go tell everyone all the sinful acts you’ve done. Of course not. But when you are real before the Lord, you also realize that there’s nothing to boast of in you and therefore you love everyone else like as though they are better than yourself. Being real gives us a sense of how sinful we actually are and how much we have been forgiven. Such a realization will bring out genuine and pure love for others, and such love when manifested in you, will communicate the gospel with much power.
Luke 7:47 – I tell you, her sins – and they are many, have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love.
Your prayers will be genuine and full of faith, (not in your ability to believe without doubting), but fully and totally in the love of God and His power.
Be real friends. Stop faking your walk with God. Tell Him exactly how you feel and what you do when no one is watching. He knows it all anyway. Hate the sin in you and don't feel condemned. He already paid the price for your sins. When you are honest and real, you receive the powerful forgiveness of God, and that Grace of God empowers you to overcome sin. When you are real before Him, you will love Him more because He does not reject you. You will love others just as He loves you. You will see others as better than you.
I was radically transformed by the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ back in 1997 in a most unusual way and unusual place. Read my testimony here. Over the years of my walk with God, I have come to realize a few basic truths that have altered my life.