By the time I’d counted my tenth radar-wielding cop in only twenty miles, I could only shake my head. I’m no speed demon, don’t get me wrong. Still, I knew our ride back home from visiting the in-laws over Memorial Day would be more snail-like than usual. People get cowed by all the law enforcement and they take on a herd mentality that makes good driving impossible.
When a mobile cop car pulled onto the highway, I knew we were done for. Every lead-footed, Top-Gear-watching, Michael Schumacher wannabe suddenly spazzed and downshifted into second. Think “trailing the pace car” kind of gridlock here as about forty vehicles all jammed together behind the cop car, each driver petrified of passing him. Three lanes of gear jockeys cursing their dumb luck scrunched onto I-71 heading south through Amish country. Oh, joy.
What did I think? What a bunch of frauds.
And they were frauds twice over, too. If they truly were crazed speed enthusiasts, you’d think one would have the guts to pass the cop (who was doing about 55 in a 65 zone). On the other hand, they all acted like law-abiding little old ladies out for a Sunday drive in their pristine K-cars—another lie.
I think most of us are frauds, each in his or her own way. Our society doesn’t reward honesty. Doesn’t give out medals to people who keep it real. We may think Jeff Bridges’ iconic character from The Big Lebowski, The Dude, epitomizes a guy just being, but he’s a fictional character in a movie mouthing fictional statements written by someone else. The whole thing smacks of fraud when you distill it down to its essence.
I think most people in this country would die a thousand times over if other people knew what they were truly like, could know their thoughts, could feel their insecurities. I think most spouses have never scratched the surface of what the other looks like deep in his or her heart of hearts.
I’m convinced that far too many Christians in churches around this country live a fraudulent life filled with keeping up an aura of spiritual perfection. They go through life as someone they’re not. A few live in such self-deception they don’t even know they’re doing it. Still, most do know—and they hate themselves for it.
In the very early days of this blog, I’d get e-mails from folks castigating me for being holier than thou simply because I pointed out a few things I thought we all could do better. Me, holy? No, I’m just as fraudulent as the next guy. I think as time went by, people saw through whatever mask they thought I was holding up. But what they didn’t see was the more subtle one I wear all the time. It looks like me, only better, stronger, sharper, and swifter—but most of all, more spiritual.
When we age, the first thing that goes is pretense. Suddenly, the young punk down the street we used to dust in pickup basketball is creaming us every Saturday. We reek of wintergreen the day after, too. In the silence of our homes, we hear the knees creaking.
It happens the same way in the soul of the Christian attuned to the Lord. (At least it should.) We wake up and see that same masked face in the mirror. And when we pray, the Holy Spirit shows us that same lingering shadow of the Old Nature. He tries to get us to admit we’re frauds, but it doesn’t come easy. People talk. People have opinions. People, people, people—that same old fear of men. A snare, the Bible says.
The Bible also says this:
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
—2 Corinthians 5:17-21
We are ambassadors of Christ, and as such we represent the government of a new Kingdom with reconciliation as its message. And ambassadors don’t get to be ambassadors by clinging to fraudulent identities. No, they endure a character trial that proves their mettle. In other words, No Frauds Allowed.
All of creation awaits our coming into our ambassadorship. It’s groaning, in fact, that we come into our own, that “own” Christ established before the foundation of the world.
If only we’d put down the fraudulent lives, the fears, the secrets, and step into the Light.
9 thoughts on “Frauds”
A friend of mine calls the Church in America the “hidden people”. The reason is that there are hundreds of thousands of people in church every Sunday, but then they disappear the rest of the week. It’s like cockroaches when you turn the light on. Frauds indeed! Look around your office some day and question how many of them go to Church on Sunday. Can you spot a Christian outside of Church? Why not? We should be easy to spot. We should be the ones loving others, giving sacrificially, dying to self on a daily basis.
We should be sticking up to be nailed down, we should be sticking out like sore thumbs, we should be squeaky wheels, seeking out injustice and seeking to correct it. We don’t have “free” time, because we do everything for God. We have died to self, and so live for Christ. We should be feeding and clothing and housing the poor, we should be visiting the prisoner, tending to the sick, comforting the widow and orphan.
Because if we aren’t, then we are the worst kind of fraud: Hypocrites, whitewashed tombs, filled with the bones of the dead and every unclean thing, dead in our trespasses and sin. Goats. Do we honestly think that going to church on Sunday is it? Raking lawns one Saturday a year is ministry? Greeting visitors one Sunday a month is a sacrifice? Are we showing love by protesting, or by being friends and listening to troubled hearts?
If Paul were here today, he would give the Church in America such a boot in the butt. But we have his letters to the Churches, who were dealing with some of the same issues. It would behoove us to read over them again, especially Thessalonians and Corinthians, to remind ourselves of how our behaviour should bring light to a world in darkness.
What a good word! I think your comment is more convicting than my post.
Iron sharpening iron, my friend; you spurred me on, and so we together can do more than one alone! Praise God!
Wow. I liked Dan’s post, but your comment (sorry Dan) hit me in the gut.
Thank you. I’m convicted, I feel brokenly convicted and find myself torn with frustration that I’m at work and can’t take my remorse to Him as I would like to at this very moment. I needed this reminder.
Mr. Riggins, I need your words as well.
Thank you both for being used by God and changing my day and my attitude.
Thanks for commenting. It means a great deal to me that you get something out of reading this blog.
Funny that you should use the word “fraud”. Satan is always whispering in my ear that I am a fraud in the worst way. “Who do you think you are”, “what makes you think you have anything good to say”, “you speak it, why aren’t you living it”…
Your post is a good one and the comments, as well. This fraud needs to hear more posts like these – shining Truth into the darkness of shallow Christian living.
Time to fall flat before the LORD…
I do not want to sound too contrarian here. (But I am sure you are used to that from me now, Dan!) I agree with your post. However, I began thinking about the flip side of the coin. In my state, Virginia, you can be pulled over for driving one mile over the speed limit. I doubt many are, but the police can use it to stop suspected drug smugglers, etc. You can be pulled over for a broken tail light, an expired sticker, failing to use a turn signal, etc. You can be ticketed for not using a seatbelt or a child-restraint seat, for driving without a license and insurance and registration, for weaving or any other open-to-interpretation “reckless driving”, etc. This list is not exhaustive, I am sure, and it does not even address dirty policing, racial profiling, and higher rates for ticketing out-of-town drivers. One study was put out that showed out-of-towners may receive more tickets and with higher fines because it is less likely they will contest tickets in court. When I went to college in Louisiana, there was a fairly good change my best friend and I would be pulled over when we drove from college to Baton Rouge. My friend’s car sported Texas plates. After the officer found out we were going to Baton Rouge (where my family lived) and not Texas (where my friend’s family lived), we were sent on our way with a warning, no ticket, no search of the car, etc. Gee, I wonder why?
People are driving like frauds in part because there are so many laws and so much spotty (or dirty) enforcement that it is simply better to tail a police cruiser than drive past it, even if you are a law-abiding citizen. This can apply to churches as well. I visited an independent fundamental Baptist church for a long time. One attendee sported a bumper sticker on her car from a popular rock ‘n’ roll church from the other side of town. (The rock ‘n’ roll church has ministries galore, uses the King James Bible, does door-to-door evangelism like this other church. But it plays rock music and has an in-house tattoo parlor, among other sins.) I enjoyed attending the church for a time precisely because I was a fraud among them, at least in their eyes. I could tell, too, much of the time, what they thought of me. No suit. No tie. Always sidling up to my lady friend. Grinning like the Cheshire cat during the hymns. (I loved the hymns most!) Plus I speak in tongues! And I like heavy metal!
I have learned, having attended so many different denominations over the years, that it does not take much to fit into a church — and even become a shining beacon of piety. Catholic, Baptist, Reformed, indie fundie, charismatic — it hardly matters. Each church’s pastorate and devout bandy about their own sets of rules and laws, sometimes so complex that it is, truly, like I have to tail a police cruiser because if I drive a little too enthusiastically for Jesus, I am going to get pulled over, interrogated, warned, arrested, or worse in church.
When I try, deliberately try, I never can keep up the fraud. I am too lazy, unmotivated, and disgusted by dishonesty to do that. But I do go about in fear sometimes, not only because someone might find out that I may do thus-and-so, but because the Holy Spirit can reveal to any believer any of my faults and sins.
I try to dive within the limits set by law enforcement. In a 65 zone, I set my cruise at about 73 and forget it. I routinely go right by cops at that speed with no issues. I’ve learned that they will pretty much leave you alone if you stay less than 10 over. I respect them and that ‘unwritten rule’ (although I confess that when following a cop, I get a little nervous and can’t get myself to go over 70).
It’s always funny to me when someone zips by at 80 plus and then, seeing the cop in the median nearly put their right foot in their hip pocket and soon are driving 58. I keep the cruise set and go right by them again.
In the church there is unfortunately far too much pressure to look right and be right. We know what we ought to be, but we can’t live up to it (or don’t want to). We accept our own weaknesses and zip along life at 80, hitting the brakes on Sunday morning to make sure that we don’t catch the eye of the law. As a result, we look just like everyone else 6 1/2 days a week. Ironically, the rest of the world are the ones who see right through this, it’s only those in the church who are fooled.
Casting Crowns (you really ought to give them a listen) have a song called Stained Glass Masquerade. The chorus is:
Perhaps the question is two fold:
Are we willing to be real and let ourselves be known?
Are we willing to let others reveal themselves to us without discarding or judging them them?
If we can’t answer yes to both questions, there’s little chance we’ll have much impact on anyone.