Americans can be pretty good at claiming to be someone they’re not. Christians can be, too. Research psychologists have found there are at least three situations when we are not ourselves.
First, the average person puts on airs when he visits the lobby of a fancy hotel. Have you ever done that? A number of years ago, Laura, the kids and I would travel to French Lick for weekend vacations at a hotel with a small water park. The hotel is nice, but relatively inexpensive, for families with young children. Right up the street, however, is the West Baden Springs Hotel. Originally built in 1855, this elegant structure was once called the “Eighth Wonder of the World,” with European-influenced architecture and an atrium that spans 200 feet. Our low-budget family would stay at the hotel with the water park and then drive up the road to walk into the atrium and pretend we were guests on a weekend, modish excursion.
Next, according to research psychologists, the average person will try to hide their emotions and bamboozle the salesman when entering a new car showroom. Buying a car can be one of the most excruciating experiences birthed right out of the pit of the underworld. But the few times I’ve walked into a car salesman’s office, I act like I’m an old pro who knows exactly what he’s doing. That salesman had better not try any of those shady sales tactics on me, because I’ve been around the block a few times, and it isn’t my first rodeo. Okay, so maybe I’ve only been around the block once.
Can you guess what the third environment is where we are not ourselves? According to this same psychological study, it’s when we take our seat in church. Whether we’re in a fancy hotel, a new car showroom, or church, researchers indicate we pretend to be better than we really are, and we want people to believe we are someone we’re not.
It’s hard for us to be who we really are and not pretend to be someone else. We might not like who we are, or we think people might accept us more if they saw as someone with a higher class, style, money or power. I remember times in high school where fellow students would ask each other what their dads did for a living, and they would respond with such occupations as attorneys, businessmen, contractors, and the like. You know, the “cool” jobs. When students would ask me what my dad did for a living, I would hesitate, because I didn’t like saying, “My dad is a pastor.” Uncool. So I not only pretended to be someone I wasn’t, I pretended my dad was someone he wasn’t.
Why do we care so much what other people think? Why do we succumb to the pressure of trying to be someone we’re not? Why aren’t we more comfortable “in our own skin”? Perhaps part of the issue is that we have not fully embraced the biblical teaching that God created us (Genesis 1:26-27), loves us (John 3:16), and makes us a new creation through Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17).
If we see ourselves as God’s creation, that our Creator loves us, and He has even re-created us and given us new life, then we have value, worth, purpose and meaning regardless of our looks, job, income, or status. We don’t have to pretend to be someone we’re not. We don’t have to put on airs, try to bamboozle people, or wear masks when we take our seat in church.
Not everyone will agree with this, of course, but the Bible is pretty clear that our worth, value, hope, meaning and purpose come when we turn over the reigns of our lives to God who “made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:5-6).
You are not what you do. Your identity is not wrapped up in your profession, status, or appearance. If you have given your life to Jesus, then you are a “Christ-one,” a “Christ-ian.” You were made alive to God in Christ (Romans 6:11). You were redeemed in Christ (Romans 3:24). You have eternal life in Christ (Romans 6:23). You have been set free in Christ (Romans 8:2). And you are part of the local and global body of believers in Christ (Romans 12:5).
So, the next time you enter the lobby of a hotel, a new car showroom, or a church, you don’t have to pretend to be someone you’re not. If you’re not in Christ, I humbly encourage you to give Him your life. If you are in Christ, then remember your identity is rooted in Him, not in your ability to negotiate the purchase of a new car.