There is a gap between who we are and who Jesus is calling us to be. You’re working to close that gap, or it’s widening. It never stays the same. The issue is not so much about the “imposter” that is in you, but what are you doing about it?
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Biff is tired. He is 43-years old and worn out. He has been running hard for nineteen years, building his “kingdom on earth.” Burning candles on both ends have become a way of life. Back in the day, his frenetic pace was exhilarating. Today it is not. The harder he tries, the more ground he loses.
- His children are rebelling.
- His wife is complaining.
- His boss is losing patience.
He cannot keep it together any longer. The mask is coming off. Biff knows he will have to do the thing that he fears the most: God is calling him to be real. While he could fake out his family and friends, the Lord is not as easily impressed or manipulated.
No creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. – Hebrews 4:13
Biff professed Christ, but he is not living for Christ. His lifestyle has put him at odds with the Lord. In his heart of hearts, he knows he has not been authentically following Jesus. Biff is out-of-step with his calling (Ephesians 4:1). The formation of Christ is not happening in him (Galatians 4:19).
Even though he says that he believes in Jesus, he knows it is a sham and the harder he tries to live in two worlds the more chaotic his soul becomes (Matthew 6:24). Biff is a dysfunctional representative of Jesus Christ, though he works hard to convince others differently.
He has become “all things to all people” so he would be loved and appreciated by a few. His plan is not working. Biff’s world is falling apart. His hypocrisy is calling him on the carpet.
Hypocrisy is not just a person saying one thing and doing another, but it is a revelation from a heart that is disjointed from what “Christian transformation” is and who Biff should be.
The life of Biff and the life of Jesus are on two different playing fields. Isn’t that the way we all are to some degree–living between two worlds? In our most revealing moments of reflection and most authentic times of vulnerability, we know that we are not a perfect reflection of Christ.
The Lord is still working in us; we are not in heaven yet. Leo Tolstoy said, “If I know the way home and am walking along it drunkenly, is it any less the right way because I am staggering from side to side!” When Paul reflected on his inconsistent homeward journey, he said,
I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. – Romans 7:15-19
Don’t you feel the discrepancy in your soul between what is right and what is wrong? Think about it with me as you reflect on your true self. Try to be vulnerable, even if only to answer a few of my questions.
- Who are you?
- Really? Who ARE you?
- What do you struggle with the most?
- Can you allow yourself to be transparent and vulnerable with others?
I am a person who is somewhere between what I used to be in my past and what I will be in the future. There is always a fluctuating gap between who I am and who God is going to make me after He completes what He started in 1984 (Philippians 1:6).
But for now, there are lingering pieces of chaos remaining in my soul. All of my sins are not gone completely. I am definitively sanctified, but there continues to be a tension in me between what is right and what is wrong. And sometimes I choose the wrong thing (Romans 7:19).
At the risk of totally exposing myself for who I am, let me state what you already intuitively know: there is active hypocrisy in me. I can be an imposter, a poser, a mask wearer.
The Hypocritical Gap
I would love to be consistent. Oh, to be whole. Or as Paul said, “Complete” (Colossians 1:28). I would like to live an authentic Christ-life one-hundred percent of the time, as opposed to living in this dualistic humanness that is lurking behind fig leaves (Genesis 3:7).
- I do wonder if this is true with others. Is this true of you? Will you be honest?
- Aren’t we all imposters, at least some of the time?
- Aren’t your self-accusations somewhat different from the way you present yourself to others?
- Don’t you live in a surreal double-world, oscillating between what you are and what you want to be?
- In your most fluid and best moments, don’t you falter?
- Isn’t there a gap between who you know you are and the carefully edited version that you put forth, hoping others will like it?
It is important to tell at least from time to time the secret of who we truly and fully are because otherwise, we run the risk of losing track of who we truly and fully are and little by little come to accept instead the highly edited version which we put forth in the hope that the world will find it more acceptable than the real thing. –Frederick Buechner, Telling Secrets, P. 3.
I wonder if most people are like Biff (and me). How many people give into the double-mindedness of James, and settle for a lesser life than what Christ offers? (James 1:5-8) Even though they find their truest love in Christ, it’s more satisfying to chase secondary lovers.
Biff ran after those false lovers for many years, only to end up hollow, broken, and dissatisfied. His false lovers were God-replacements that he hoped would fill the insatiable desires of his soul (Ecclesiastes 1:8). They were imposters. His three favorite ones were love, marriage, and work.
The Love Imposter
Biff lived in a world of porn. Porn lures you into the life of an imposter, a person who resigns his life to lurking in the shadows, in an attempt to create a world where he can release his fantasies.
His world was one that he could manipulate by making the “cyber women” satisfy his deepest cravings. These women made him feel good about himself. He wrote the script and told them what to say and how to think; and they responded with everything that he wanted to see, hear, and feel.
It was the “perfect fantasy” for the poser: total control, totally private, total pleasurable, and totally different from the real world that he had to contend with each day.
Biff was living in the “hypocritical gap” between two worlds. He was never true in either one. In the fantasy world he created, he was an image of his creation, while in the Christ-world, he was a facade of what Christianity is supposed to be.
In his Christian world, he could only put forth a “carefully crafted image” of how he wanted others to think about him, while in his porn world he was true to his Adamic cravings. Biff was lost in both worlds.
The Marriage Imposter
Marriage was another one of his failed attempts to live for Christ. While the Lord was calling him to give up his life sacrificially, he craved to be pleased “at all costs,” even if he had to sin to manipulate his wife to meet his desires.
Marriage became a false lover, a soother of his soul. He bent his marriage toward himself, to cater to himself so he could receive his most coveted longings. Marriage was a manipulate-able means where he could receive attention, love, and affirmation–similar to his world of fantasy porn.
He was a poser, who pretended to be a Christian living in a Christian marriage, but it was not authentic. He was living for himself. He used his wife and his children to create a mirage that lifted him up by feeding his insatiable longings.
His wife felt like a Christian prostitute. She did her duty, but her heart was growing colder by the day. His selfish, self-made fantasy world was colliding with what Christ was calling him to be (Ephesians 5:25).
The Work Imposter
When porn was not an option, and his marriage was not going well, Biff could turn to his work. Biff did what a lot of guys are tempted to do. His work was the place where he could strut his stuff and collect the praises of others.
Men gravitate toward their raw strengths and natural abilities. While there does not have to be anything wrong with this, it can be a devastating option if their abilities become a means to satisfy their sinful cravings for acceptance and significance, which was the case for Biff.
He convinced himself and others that he had found his niche in life and that God was using his job as a means to provide for his family. While there was truth to what he spun, there was also a hidden and insidious side to this story.
His unguarded strength, which was his job, because his weakness that not only blinded him but kept him from living an authentic Christ-life. Biff was self-deceived.
He justified his work because he provided for his family, and Biff was good at what he did. But what Biff would not tell you is that his work satisfied his quest for self-glory, especially in light of his growing displeasure with his home life.
Right Stuff, but Wrong Direction
Our pursuits do not have to be wrong pursuits. Good things can be good for us, but they can also become misguided pursuits when we take the good things in our lives and use them to satisfy our lusts.
- Sex is fantastic if it is for the pleasure of your spouse (1 Corinthians 7:3-4).
- Marriage is beautiful when two people become one flesh for God’s glory (Genesis 2:24).
- Work is terrific if it becomes a means to put Christ on display rather than to fill our insatiable love cups (Matthew 6:33; 1 Corinthians 10:31).
Our problem is that too often we select “false lovers” or “God-replacements” that put us in a gap between two worlds. We become imposters, not true to ourselves or real with God. Jeremiah put it this way when he said,
For my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water. – Jeremiah 2:13
We create this world that does not hold water while seeking to convince ourselves and others that it is real. The path we carve out for ourselves can become fraudulent. It may work to a degree, but in reality, it does not work because it is not the authentic life Christ is calling us to. It keeps us from being the people God intends us to be.
Call to Action
In Christ alone, we find reality and satisfaction. He alone is the answer to our most penetrating questions and our deepest longings. He is the prototype we are to imitate. As we rivet our hearts to the heart of God, we find true peace.
If you feel yourself in this frustrating place between two worlds and you do not know how to get out it, let me encourage you to do these four things:
- Admit – There is a world of difference between Christ-followers who struggle but repent of their sin and hypocrites who refuse to admit their bouts with their sins. Will you agree there is a gap between who you are and who you need to be?
- Stop – Our temptation is to present ourselves in a way that we believe will be more acceptable to others. Will you stop trying to look good and start being more transparent about your life?
- Seek – Do not try to extricate yourself from your hypocrisy alone. Finding Jesus and authentically living for Jesus happens in a community. Will you find a few close friends who will allow you to take off your mask?
- Pray – Ask the Lord to give you the grace to help you to close the gap between the person you are and the person you should be in Christ.
Also published on Medium.