Walking through a store that is about thirty minutes from home I encountered a group of ladies blocking one of the aisles. I tried to slip out into the store around them when one of the women says, “Well, look who we have here!” Not thinking she was talking to me, I put my head down and kept moving. The lady then says in a louder voice, “Hey Ken.”
Noticing her eyes were looking at me, I did what every person would do; I looked behind me to see if someone was close by that she was addressing. I did not see anyone near me, so I turned back to her and said, “Are you talking to me?”
Finally, when she heard my voice, she told the rest of her group, “That’s not Ken.” They all seemed disappointed and went back to their conversation.
I continued walking through the store, and my mind began to think about our identity. From what I gather Ken is a stunningly handsome man who is fortunate enough to look like me. He also lives in the area and is usually seen visiting this establishment. The look was right, and the location was correct, but the substance was wrong. I am not Ken.
The people who claim to follow Jesus can be a deceiving group. Many of them go to the right locations like Church meetings and special holiday programs. Many of them have the right look as they carry their Bible (or have the Bible app) and post spiritual things on social media. Unfortunately, they lack the substance to be the real thing. They are not Christians.
A Christian is not someone who looks the part, their identity is wrapped up in Christ, and their actions reflect his will for their lives. Faith is about our substance and not our style.
Looks can certainly be deceiving, even in the Church, but hopefully not in the mirror.
The devil is described in the Bible as the father of lies.
Sometimes his lies come to us from other people. They distort the true, and it hurts us. They might have meant it for good, but when the truth comes out, there is still hurt.
The deadliest lies are the ones we tell ourselves – those conversations that take place inside the walls of our mind that no one else hears. They twist the truth in ways that are convenient and yet they are misleading. Here are three of the biggest lies I fight against regularly, and perhaps you do too.
1. “My intentions are all that matter.” Inside my head, I am a great person. I would serve more sacrificially if I had more time. I would give away a lot of money once I have some. I want to make peace with my enemies. There is no limit to the good I would do, the next time I am given a chance. This lie separates my thoughts from my actions. If I thought about doing something in the name of Jesus, then score a point for me, when the harsh reality is that I haven’t done anything good for anyone outside of my brain.
2. “I am deeply committed to Jesus.” In my heart, I think about Jesus more than people know. I don’t mind Christian music, I have a few Christian friends, and I even do religious some stuff when it is convenient. Recently I was talking to a lady, and she spoke about our Church like she was a committed member, but the truth was that she had been here twice in the last two years. My immediate thought was a little judgmental of her as I said to myself, “she is only fooling herself.” Then I flipped my thinking over and wondered where I am doing the same. The problem with a faith that is connected to the heart is that we can lie to ourselves and separate it from our actions.
3. “It was just that one time (I am sure I will do better next time).” Sin frequently grabs us and pulls into a miry pit of shame. We feel remorse and regret and those feelings of guilt that accompany all failure. This is where I tend to tell myself, “It was just that one time.” Then I go on living exactly as I did before. This lie keeps me from making the changes necessary to move forward in a new way. What usually happens is that I repeat the cycle and end up doing the same stupid thing over and over. It is hard to admit that I might have a character flaw that needs to be changed.
Being honest with yourself is difficult. It requires not only self-reflection but also people who are willing to be brutally honest with you. Those are both hard to do and hard to find.
The devil does not need to bring someone in from the outside to lie to you and destroy your life. His greatest tool often resides between our own ears. Moving forward with Jesus will require us to stop lying to ourselves no matter how hard the truth is to hear.
The Apostle Paul has a special meeting with the Church leaders from the city of Ephesus on the beach at Miletus. There he summarizes his ministry in a couple of short paragraphs. Every line is stuffed with meaning on what it means to be a Christians, especially a leader. When I learned this passage, a statement lodged itself in my soul that has guided my own journey as a believer.
Paul says in Acts 20:20 “You know that I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you …”
He describes his work in the Lord as trying to preach what is helpful to other people. This concept has become one of the goals of my life. I want to do anything that will help other people in their life of faith. So I do everything I can from writing to preaching, and even have private conversations in an effort to help people grow spiritually.
What if one of the simple goals of our life were to try to help people as they walk with Jesus? What if today you tried in every way possible to help people take another step on their journey of faith?
God is not usually inviting us to change people in dramatic ways; instead, he wants us to help the people we meet today to move one step closer to him.