Matthew 7: 15- "watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves"
We read this verse a few weeks ago in church and it has been resonating with me ever since. The Bible specifically mentions false prophets: people claiming to be acting and speaking in Gods name but who are actually living according their own will and not His.
But for me this week, I've considered this passage less specifically and more as a general outlook of false people.
It got me thinking about people who pretend to be something they're not: whether it's someone 'catfishing' on social media; or celebrities who hide behind masks of plastic surgery and Instagram filters; or real world con-men and smooth-talking psychopaths; or just someone pretending to be richer than they are...they're are a lot of people "faking it" in the world today.
And it occurred to me this week, through some words playing on my mind: "God doesn't call you to be fake", actually He calls us to be the opposite. "God calls you to be real!"
Imagine that person in the world, that one person who really winds you up, who you almost can't stand to be around because there is something about them that you cannot get on with. The 'easy [or maybe not so easy] Christian thing' to do is to smile and be civil and say as few words as possible to them and escape their presence as quickly as you can. To the world, you probably appear to be a nice person, who made an effort and smiled and were very polite. But God sees your heart, he knows that in your head the whole time you're thinking of all the cruel things you want to say to that person, or in your heart you're desperately imagining a time in 5 minutes when you no longer have to be near them. And the thing is, you're being fake, and God hasn't called you to be that way. I know this is hard, I have struggled with this - do struggle with this -, but I'm working on it now: because if God calls us to be real and just being polite (whilst internally screaming is) faking it, something has to change.
We have to look to the root of the problem: If someone annoys you think: is this a problem within them or within me?
If the issue you have with them is something within your self (like you just can't stand them, or a habit hey have grates on you) resolve it within yourself, then show them compassion! You aren't called to be fake - to hold your hate inside and smile at them when you walk passed, you're called to be real: resolve the issue within yourself with Gods help and through prayer and self reflection. This is so hard, trust me I know, as humans we are a lot better at pointing out the speck in someone else's eye than acknowledging the plank in our own (Matthew 7:5). But if you keep the dislike or hatred you have for them in your heart while you're "trying to be nice to them" it won't be of God, it won't be holy, something will be wrong with it. Remember, all things are possible through Him 'who gives you strength' (Philippians 4:13), no matter how hard it seems to overcome this dislike. And once you have gotten over the problem within yourself, then go out and demonstrate God's love to that person.
But if you decide the problem is within the other person (they say mean things that hurt your feelings, or they make jokes that insult you or others) approach them about it, privately and politely, with Gods help: tell them the truth - you are not called to lie, you are not called to be fake. Tell them it hurts you or upsets you, chances are they won't know it's been upsetting anyone until you tell them, and awareness of how it makes you feel will alter their behaviour and allow you to move past your dislike.
How often do you: go to church on a Sunday out of habit and live the life you choose for the rest of the week; pretend to be of this world when you belong to God; go through the motions of kindness without feeling it in your heart; give change to a homeless person knowing in your heart that you could do more...these acts done without God and His love at the centre are pointless and without value - to the outside world they appear good and kind and loving, but without Him, they are fake. And you are called to a real life!
Anyone can pretend to be better than they are, anyone can fake being a nice person, anyone can masquerade as living life Gods way. But no one can fool God. Even if the people in the world don't notice that your actions don't bear any fruit, God will know.
I want to live my life according to His plan, I want to be real! So I'm praying that He purifies my heart, that he helps me to be real in a world of fakes and masquerades.
Stand out for God: be genuine and real in a world that calls you to be artificial.