Super market magazines are annoying with their cover models of fake, unreachable, perfection. These annoying, deceiving magazines can teach us as Christians something incredibly valuable. We too can present a fake image, falling into the trap of displaying the airbrushed, and glossed self. A fake plastic Christmas tree made to look perfect. The spotless bedroom with all the junk shoved in the closet. How tempting to hide our dirt under the rug. We put up firewalls and blockers to hold away eyes that could see the real us. Satan deceives us into living the fake life, utterly afraid to reveal (or admit we have) our ugly sides. And here is the depressing irony: as we try to look as perfect as we can, hiding our faults from those we call brother and sister—we are simply comparing ourselves to their fake perfection! Like a record gone bad, it’s a rut impossible to escape from on our own. When we choose to present an air glossed self, we perpetuate a norm of false perfection—a danger zone in which all are fake, and dying—inadvertently choosing to give up life. This doesn’t just harm us—it harms the ones God has called us to reach!
How hard it must be to join the church when it is made into a place for demigods—when only those who have reached a certain level of "godliness" are welcome. But the church is not a theater...it’s more like a hospital. Many of us have grown accustomed to our masks…we’ve become pretty comfortable with them, and can put on a decent show. We play the thespian with the church as our stage. But one danger in living to keep up appearances is that we forget our real purpose. We might begin to expect the world to come running to us, instead of sending our ambulances out to them, and when a dying person does come crawling to our doors, because we have an image to maintain, we worry and whisper about the blood they are getting on the carpet.
Another danger is this. John Lynch, author of The Cure, offers this scary insight. When we wear a mask, no one sees the real us. Therefore, it’s our masks others learn to love—not us.
I never liked fake Christmas trees. They have no fragrance. Sure, with the real thing, there are some bare spots, and the needles fall, but they are real!
Living as an airbrushed person is a dangerous and empty life to live. So why do we so easily succumb to the fear of being real? Why do we lie to each other and to God saying that we are ok, or try to make ourselves lovelier then we are? That didn't go well for Ananias and Sapphira (see Acts 5). I offer these rebukes to myself as much as to anyone. I love the church, and I especially love my church! I count it a blessing to be one with the bride of Christ. This is a reminder to us all, to wash off the makeup, remove the corset, stop holding our breath, and just let the belly hang out. No more wigs, no more toupees, just the real deal. We all have our ugly parts. We all have bad haircuts. We all have toe fungus, gray hairs, and strange rashes in strange places, but we are real. If we are brothers and sisters in the beauty of Christ, let’s be real with each other relying on his beauty rather than our airbrushes. I like this reminder from John Lynch--you are beautiful, because Christ’s grace covers you…not some mask.