Real. Legit. True. Great things that everyone should strive for, but what happens when instead of striving, “real” becomes an excuse for disobedience? Is it possible that what we would qualify as realness is really just an excuse for faithlessness? That we herald the person who is “real” while celebrating inaction, or more blatantly, sin? For the sake of being “real”, there are those who openly flaunt their failures, as if there is no fault, no conviction. They are the same people who quickly tout, “Don’t judge me.” Impotent faith isn’t something to celebrate. It is something to grieve and should be cause for questioning the validity of one’s salvation.
That’s Just Who I Am
Sin is not new. Hiding sin is not new. It was the first reaction of Adam & Eve when faced with their failure in the garden of Eden. Pretend like nothing happened. Cover the shame. Ditch the apple core and hide in the bushes. The methods of cover up may have gotten more complicated, but people have been doing the same kind of thing ever since.
We want acceptance. We realize that our sins will affect the way that people view us or treat us. “If people knew…” is a statement that haunts us. We want people to believe that we are greater that we are. We hide behind the foliage of fake smiles and “I’m fine’s”. The religious teachers of Jesus’ day influenced others through external impressions. Jesus called them white washed tombs, clean on the outside, but internally full of rottenness (Matthew 23:27).
People have grown tired of hypocrisy. We are tired of the politics and empty promises. People both in the church and in society let us down. We also grow tired of trying to live up to a perception that people have of us. There is something freeing about being open about the reality of things. There is not the pressure of trying to live up to something that you know you will fail in accomplishing. Being “real” retires the masks and puts away the charades. But is that kind of realness enough? Really?
We can err between two unhealthy alternatives. One wears a mask and lives in a world of make believe. The other airs out dirty laundry for all to see believing that disclosure will bring about freedom. It at least frees from the tyranny of false perceptions. But neither hiding nor open exposure will do.
Freedom in the Christian life is not centered on perceptions or realness. Freedom is centered on repentance. The Gospel uncovers the warts behind the mask, but does not rest in their simple exposure. Jesus exposes the shame we try to hide that he might take it from us. Hiding it will not cure the problem. Being open about the problem will not in itself cure the problem. Only Jesus can bring healing in exposing our reality and drawing us into a greater reality – his finished work covers over all our sins. Jesus’ covering is greater than ours because, whereas we mask the problem, Jesus forgives and restores. Jesus became the sin that we try to hide that in him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21).
Jesus came to call sinners to repentance (Luke 5:32). The realness that glorifies God is one that admits the sin, turns from it and rests in the finished work of Jesus.
Just As I Am
The Gospel is not appreciated by those who settle in “just who I am”. Rather, the Gospel is magnified in those who find hope that Jesus comes to us “just as we are” but doesn’t leave us that way. Realness is not the destination. Jesus is. When the focus is Jesus, there is no realness without repentance. There is no realness without celebration. May the reality of our lives continually be shaped by the greater reality the Gospel brings. Don’t just get real. Embrace Jesus.