Am I a Fake?

When I was in high school we used to call people “posers” when they tried too hard to fit in.  If you wore Vans and dressed like a skater but couldn’t ride a skateboard, you were a “poser.”  Now that I look back on it, I realize that “poser” is just a different word for “hypocrite”  — someone who says one thing or looks one way, but in reality acts or thinks differently.

One of the biggest arguments non-Christians cite as a reason they do not want to attend a church is because it is full of “hypocrites.”  In many ways, I feel their pain.

I have noticed a great deal of spiritual pretentiousness in “Christian” groups.  There are usually spoken and unspoken expectations of what a Christian looks and acts like.  These expectations involve the way you dress, the way you talk, the music you enjoy, the books you read, and your political affiliation (to name a few).  People are continually shocked to learn that I despise listening to happy, shiny K-love and am not a Republican.  I am tired of kitschy, sentimental Christianity.  I want a Christianity that works in the “real world.”  A Christian is not someone who “looks” a certain way on the outside but, rather, someone whose heart has been transformed by Christ (2 Cor. 3:18).  Hypocrisy is a result of focusing too much on externals rather than focusing on the heart.

In my ministry with young adults, there is a temptation to breed the hypocrisy I so despise.  If I am concerned only with teaching them to behave well and not to love God I will teach them to ornately paint their coffins and never deal with the dead bones inside (Matt. 23:27).  If I only emphasize character traits (e.g., modesty, abstinence, honesty, commitment, etc.) and never deal with motivations and intentions then I will only teach them to look good on the outside.  If they love “good” more than they love God then they will go to hell “good” people.

For me this means that I need to model genuine Christian transformation (2 Cor. 5:17).  First, I do not need to play the part of a “good” Christian.  I must be honest about my struggles.  I cannot just imitate Christian vocabulary but must mean what I say.  If I say, “I’ll be praying for you,” then I need to actually pray for you!  Second, as Tim Keller says, I need to “repent not only for the things I do wrong but for the reasons I do right.”  Am I doing good out of a heart that loves God or am I just trying to justify myself (Luke 10:29).  Do I love and obey God as a means or as an end?

“Religious people love God to get things, gospel people love God to get God.”
— Tim Keller

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7 thoughts on “Am I a Fake?”

  1. “People are continually shocked to learn that I despise listening to happy, shiny K-love and am not a Republican.” Well… as long as you have a fish on the back of your car…

    Seriously… great post! I agree 100%. Someone’s level of hypocrisy is usually demonstrated by the amount of grace they offer to others: the less grace, the more hypocrisy.

    -Alan

  2. Thanks for the comments. Alan, I agree with your observation that an increase in hypocrisy is evidenced by a decrease in grace. I am glad that Christ wasn’t a hypocrite!

  3. Mark –

    This is fantastic and I’ve been thinking about this for sometime. I think this will be a post of my soon, but I’ve been reflecting some on how many levitical laws are still in effect. By that I mean that there is still a notion of “unclean” and “clean” and we don’t have categories to think beyond this. So there are radio stations, political parties, and clothing styles that make me “clean,” and if i do these things then God will accept me and love me.

    All this, of course, is contrary to the Gospel that gives us acceptance from God despite our sin, not because we’ve been so good.

  4. It is a dangerous and interesting conundrum – knowing I’m called to good works (Eph 2:10) while not allowing those good works to take the place of or overwhelm faith, even still all the while clinging to this great Grace that I’ll never understand. I guess I’m with Bono when he says “Grace defies reason and logic. Love interrupts, if you like, the consequences of your actions, which in my case is very good news indeed, because I’ve done a lot of stupid stuff.” Good post, Mark. PS try to offer us K-Love listeners a little grace as well!

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