As a pastor, I want it to look like I have it all together; like authentic, for me, looks like a perfected relationship with God. As if during ordination, fairy dust was actually sprinkled on me and I had it made in the shade with the J Man.
Unfortunately, the truth is messier.
Here are three ways, three traps, where I find myself faking it with Jesus.
I read about the Bible more than I read the Bible
I’m always tempted to want to be thought of as Intelligent more than Transformed. It’s easy for me to spend a stretch reading what Dale Bruner thinks about Matthew, than reading Matthew learning what Jesus thinks about me. We live in a culture that is so suspect of the Bible (the Church included) that it seems like you have to know what people say about the Bible more than what the Bible says.
I’m prone to fall into the trap of knowing about someone, rather than knowing them. I’ll spend all kinds of time learning about them, and very little time getting to know them. And there’s a big difference. Several times in Scripture, God says, “Be still and know that I am God.” That’s an invitation. Notice that God doesn’t say, Be still and know about God. The offer is unbelievable, “Rest in my presence and know me personally. Get to know what it looks like to live each moment in grace. Feel the difference mercy makes. Let love become what motivates you. Follow after Jesus, you are his prototype.”
Why I would rather find out about somebody else’s experience with that rather than steep in the vastness of it myself? I don’t know.
I think about praying more than I pray
I have this journal where I keep all my prayer requests. I’ll spend a good deal of time writing my list out, like a Christmas wish list, without bothering to put the book down and actually spend time in the company of Jesus handing all this stuff over to his power and ability to do something in the world.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving present your requests to God and the peace of God which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Writing prayers down sort of alleviates my anxiety, but it’s different than taking five minutes to say, “Jesus, you know all about the things I’ve written down. You take my burdens which sting like bee and you give me yours, which float like a butterfly.”
I’m not saying that there aren’t a number of ways to pray, and that writing prayers isn’t praying, but I catch myself writing and not praying. Staying outside the ballpark, instead of joining God in the Skybox.
I rely on my strength more than I rely on Jesus
There were two movies that were really similar in theme and I loved them both: The Mighty and Simon Birch. Both films involve a small person that relies on the size and strength of a big person. The Mighty is more obvious.
I’m a small person, limited in scope and ability. Jesus is completely competent, strong and capable; unlimited. Like the Mighty, Jesus offers to ride me on his shoulders, to walk alongside me in my everyday, but I’m too prideful, too intent on proving that I can do everything by myself; the same thing that drives me crazy about my four year old.
It’s kind of living with a functional belief that Jesus isn’t God, that I am ultimately more powerful and capable than he is, which is insanity for somebody who claims that he is God. I just have this deep need to prove myself, to prove how Great I Am, rather than How Great Thou Art!
But that’s the Christian life: slowly kneading out the bumps in the bread, getting rid of pride bubbles and selfish spaces. That’s what transformation is, a life a discovering ways that we fake it with Jesus and getting more and more real about it. I’ve got work to do, but I’m pretty sure that in doing it, I’m doing something right.
How about you? How do you fake it Jesus?
HT: Francis Chan