This is a message for fake Christians. Which, by the way, includes you . . . and me.
We put on a face. Pretend to be someone who is not truly us. Conceal what's real in order to appear attractive.
As a Christian, do you ever feel pressure to be someone you're not?
There are a couple ways we can be fake:
Act super-holy. You want to impress people with how good you are. You are moral, pious, in control. You want everyone to see how nice and shiny your life is. "I have it all together." But it's really a front.
Act super bad. You want to impress others with how "real" and "normal" you are. You want to fit in with those around you, even if their values aren't your values. You want to be accepted, so you put on a face in order to belong. Like cussing with the cool kids at recess in junior high.
So here are the questions:
Can you be honest about who you are, even when it's not pretty?
Can you be distinct in who you are, even when it's hard?
I hate it when pastors throw Greek words around, but here's an intriguing one:
Parrasia: Open, candid speech, spoken whether in private or public.
It's often translated as "boldness" (Acts 4:31). It means that what you believe, speak, and do privately, you also believe, speak, and do publicly.
The first disciples were once afraid to speak candidly in public. After the crucifixion, they were "behind locked doors." But then the Holy Spirit came, and they took this news of Jesus public. At great risk to their lives. That's parrasia. Not fake. Not concealing or hiding or being someone you're not.
Instead they were genuine.
So how do you be a genuine Christian? Not fake or phony? Some ideas:
Be aware of your phony habits. When are you someone that you're not? Who are you usually with? Why do you act differently around them?
Have a core of honest Christian friends you can be real with. That know the real you. They'll tell you when you're faking.
Henri Nouwen wrote, "The Christian leader of the future is called to be completely irrelevant and to stand in this world with nothing to offer but his or her own vulnerable self." To be vulnerable is a scary thing, but vulnerability is where God works powerfully.
Invite the Holy Spirit.
I know that sounds super pious, but it's what the first Christians did (Acts 4:29). They prayed for the Spirit to grant boldness in the face of opposition, to be true to who they were called to be. Then the Spirit came. And they were different people. Bold. Fearless. Confident.
Parrasia means there is no place for faking it.
We are the same person, whether in public or private.
Whether in church or at the movie theater.
Whether in the sanctuary or the locker room.
Whether on Sunday morning or Friday night.
Jesus is the "anti-faker." In his earthly ministry, he wasn't "religious" in one place and a "cool" in another. Read the gospels. Whether he was praying alone, or at a party with sinners and tax collectors, or teaching thousands of people, he was the same Jesus. True, gracious, genuine, honest.