My older two kids, along with 16 other peers, have been preparing for their school play this week. I’ve been blessed to serve them behind the curtains, helping them find lost items, keeping them calm and settled (which means lots of shhhhhhhhhhhs), praying for them, providing them snacks and goodies as needed.
To step out front and see them perform, I’m amazed at the talent God’s given them, how good they are “in character” as they act out their roles under the stage lights. But I learn so much more about each of them as I serve backstage…watching as they relate to one another, handle the pressure of scene and costume changes, endure makeup and hair touch-ups, even what they write on the white board…the pressured hustle and bustle keeps them from noticing me there, observing.
All of this has reminded me of some huge lessons the Lord has taught me over the years…He’s still in the process of working it out in me, truth be told. It can be so easy to “perform” as a Christian, to get in the role of what we think we should act like or think like or who we need to imitate. We can practice, even make ourselves (or others) believe we are the real deal, when in the secret places of our hearts we’re someone else altogether.
Who are we when the lights and camera and audience are stripped away? That’s worth considering on many different levels. Let’s ask ourselves some questions:
- Am I an admired leader at church, yet an emotional wreck or apathetic at home or school?
- Am I “all spiritual” or cheerful online while grumpy frumpy at my family, possibly even while I’m typing?
- Am I sober and worshipful when I’m alone with God, yet worldly with my friends (whether in person or online)?
- Do I show others a grace-giving, forgiving, freedom-loving Christian only to judge and look down on them in my heart and mind when I’m alone?
- When the house is quiet and I’m all by myself, what do I run to? How do I spend my time and money?
- When I’m on the road or at the store, how do I respond to delays and frustrations? Or opportunities to be a blessing?
- Have I grown to be a performing Christian, full of striving and self-effort, instead of an authentic one, dependent on faith in Christ alone? Let it not be so (Gal. 3)!
I’ll be the first to tell you that all of this can be over-analyzed, so try not to dwell on it to the point of self-condemnation; rather, use what He reveals to you as an opportunity to mature in the faith.
God desires that we are His from the inside out. That who we are in private and who we are in public are consistent with His character. It’s not that we’ll “act” the same way when we’re in a crowd of people versus when we’re at home alone or with just a few, but no matter what scenario, we can be true to who God has made us to be, how He wants us to behave as His own, living by His wisdom and insight and discernment, because of His grace and for His glory.
“Behold, You delight in Truth in the inward being, and You teach me wisdom in the secret heart.” Psalm 51:6
For me, this has all been and continues to be an ongoing sanctifying process, not a finely rehearsed performance. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve cried out Psalm 119:5: “Oh that my ways may be steadfast in keeping Your statutes!” I’m learning to hush and listen, to expose my weaknesses and vulnerabilities, to ask for God’s help, to allow other believers to speak into me and correct me when needed. I’m most consistent when I keep my head in my Bible and my knees on the floor so that I can know Truth himself, the One who is worthy of imitation and gives me my identity. Because He loves me, He is faithful to expose the behaviors and motives that are not in keeping with my role as His daughter as I remain teachable. When I’m defensive or obstinate, it ain’t pretty on or off the stage.
“For ‘In him we live and move and have our being’…’For we are indeed His offspring.'”
Here’s a challenge for you. Ask God to give you pause…shhhhhh…to inconsistent behaviors or patterns in your faith walk, whether through His whispers, His restraint or the voice of other believers. Then, while He has your attention, ask for His direction and trust Him to begin the process of changing you through and through–one grace-giving, life-producing, Holy Spirit-led step at a time. He is pleased to do so, and in His faithfulness, He will.
“Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; He will surely do it.”
1 Thessalonians 5:23-24
* All verses are from the ESV unless otherwise noted
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