Nobody likes a poser but we all try to be one. And if we’re not careful, we’ll never be exposed.
I wonder how many people would short-circuit spiritual growth if they knew they’d never be caught. We know that in many industries people do the exact same thing to proposer in their job, though we get angrier if they choose to do it in certain sports (like baseball). I couldn’t even escape the idea of cheating on the job while watching a movie with my kids on Friday. The whole storyline of Monster’s Inc. actually begins because a certain, slimy Randall Boggs cheats by padding his scream stats after closing hours. No, nobody likes a poser but we all try to be one.
(Was Barry Bonds a cheater? Only the court of public opinion has ruled; but it was cool to see this at Cooperstown).
In Matthew 6 Jesus reminds us of what is most important when we are considering our own pursuit of the spiritual life. It’s not that we are seen, how we are seen, or that we demonstrate it all publicly. No, what matters most is a life that pursues God in secret. Yet this is the hardest to actually show because it requires a deep love and desire to know (and be with) God when no one else is looking. . .
Part of me, at times, would rather go to the poser’s school of following Jesus. I’d even be the chief instructor and teach things like:
- How to mark in your Bible to show your godliness.
- Eloquent (and theologically correct) ways to pray in public.
- Church attendance and proper seating placement in the sanctuary to be seen as active.
- Ways to sing songs, and harmonize with them, to stand out on a Sunday.
- The best ways to interact in a Bible study to make the teacher think you’ve got it together.
- Being sure you listen to music by Christian artists during your workday, or at least when people come into your office.
- How to smile big and ask the right “how are you” questions to impress all of your friends.
- And many, many more. . .
The problem is this: that’s not what evidences knowing Jesus.
Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 6:1
When we try to fake out the world we lie to ourselves and gain nothing from the Lord. However, when we pursue God when no one else is looking we become something we could never fake–both publicly and privately. We become people who are being renewed day by day into the likeness of Jesus.
And that is worth giving up time for. . .