I used to fake a lot around other Christians.
Okay, fine, that was just yesterday but today, I've resolved to stop faking.
My intention has never been to be deceptive
but only to fit in with my own Christian family.
The problem is, the rules change depending on whose house I'm visiting.
I didn't fake when I was a child or a teenager.
Growing up, I lived at church. I was there all the time, sometimes even when it wasn't open.
Any time I was free and alone (which was often because it was the sixties when kids were still allowed to ride their bikes around town and be gone for hours),
I'd stick my Bible and my hymnal (yes, I had my own hymnal) in my bike basket and ride to the hill that overlooked my church. There I'd read and sing and talk with God
and because it was the sixties and seventies and lots of people were doing much weirder things, no one bothered me.
It was there I learned to love Jesus.
I didn't realize my church was "liberal" until I showed up at Christian college.
It didn't take me long to figure out there were different kinds of Christians and some were much more "serious" than I was perceived to be,
in fact, they had checklists of things you had to do or look like or believe in
and if you didn't, your salvation was clearly in doubt.
So, since I knew I was saved (or what else were those years of following Jesus about?), I figured I just had to fake it until I
learned the lingo,
knew the names,
followed the right musicians,
listened to the correct preachers,
read the proper books,
and understood Biblical doctrine (which seemed suddenly MUCH more important than having read and reread and tried to live the Bible).
It's a good thing I was smart because it made it easier to be a good faker.
I felt kind of bad for the kids who weren't catching on as quickly. They probably did love Jesus but they'd never fit in with other Christians
and at the time, that seemed like a death sentence.
College was over thirty years ago but the habit of faking is hard to shake.
Still, when I encounter a new group of believers, I listen first, long enough to pick up on their lingo, their buzzwords, their pet doctrines, and the nuances of their faith
until I know how to clue them in that I'm legit.
Well, that's what I used to do,
you know, until yesterday
when I decided to stop faking.
As you get older, you lose a lot of things - hair, keen eyesight, muscle and bone mass. None of that is pleasant or good
but one good thing I've decided to lose is my fear of not fitting in,
the desire to please others that is so strong I'd rather put on the robes of a Pharisee than have dinner with a few uncouth fishermen,
the bone in my head that convinces me Jesus is pleased when I try to look like something other than He made me
just to please His other kids.
Because, let's face it,
faking it is just another form of deception
and there's enough of that floating in the air without adding my breath to the fog.
And after all,
what's so terrifying about saying,
"No, I've never heard of that particular Bible teacher." or
"What do you mean by that theological term? I've heard it before but I've never understood it."
"I'm not really sure what I believe about that trendy Christian topic. Whenever I think I've decided what I believe, someone else talks and they seem right, too."
or even, "Wow, I hope you don't take this wrong but I have a completely different take on theology than you do, brother, but I hope that doesn't need to divide us."
I don't know, maybe I'm just talking crazy now but Jesus came to set me free, not just put me in bondage to a different set of norms than the rest of the world.
So, of all the silly things that require courage, I've decided to find the courage to stop faking around other Christians.
I'll let you know how it works out. Somehow, I'm able to be myself with you, loved ones, and I hope you feel the same.
Have you been tempted to fake it, too? How's that working out for you? I'd love to know I'm not alone.