The Pretenders

A few years ago there was a TV show on the was called "The Pretender".  It centered around a character by the name of Jared, who was kidnapped as a child and his kidnappers used and developed his skills so that he could become whoever or whatever he wanted in any situation.  One week he was a race car driver, another a doctor, another a member of the Coast Guard.

What I wonder, and fear, is that in most churches on Sunday mornings, we have congregations filled with pretenders, or,  as Brendan Manning refers to them in the title one of his books,  "Posers, Fakers, and Wannabes".

I believe that our churches are filled with posers, fakers, wannabes and pretenders every Sunday.  Our churches are not safe to be real and share our hurts, our fears, our sin, our pain,  our sorrow, our trials and our temptations without being condemned, ostracized, and cast out, so we hide behind a smile and our supposed goodness because we fear what people might do to us or say about us to our face or behind our backs.

It reminds me of the song by Casting Crowns, "Stained Glass Masquerade"


Is there anyone that fails


Is there anyone that falls


Am I the only one in church today feelin' so small


Cause when I take a look around


Everybody seems so strong


I know they'll soon discover


That I don't belong


So I tuck it all away, like everything's okay


If I make them all believe it, maybe I'll believe it too


So with a painted grin, I play the part again


So everyone will see me the way that I see them




Are we happy plastic people


Under shiny plastic steeples


With walls around our weakness


And smiles to hide our pain


But if the invitation's open


To every heart that has been broken


Maybe then we close the curtain


On our stained glass masquerade




Is there anyone who's been there


Are there any hands to raise


Am I the only one who's traded


In the altar for a stage


The performance is convincing


And we know every line by heart


Only when no one is watching


Can we really fall apart


But would it set me free


If I dared to let you see


The truth behind the person


That you imagine me to be


Would your arms be open


Or would you walk away


Would the love of Jesus


Be enough to make you stay



Are we happy plastic people


Under shiny plastic steeples


With walls around our weakness


And smiles to hide our pain


But if the invitation's open


To every heart that has been broken


Maybe then we close the curtain


On our stained glass masquerade

I come to wonder whether our order of worship, our events, our ministries, our routines are there in part because it is much easier and more comfortable to go through the routine than to be genuine with one another.  More than anything else, I long to see the church be able to be so real with one another that we rally around one another when we struggle rather run away from each other.

Paul wrote that we are to "Carry one another's burdens; in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ" (Gal  6:2, HCSV).  We aren't too good at burden bearing…stone casting..yes, tongue lashing…yes, soul smashing…yes, but not burden bearing.  Maybe we'll get this down some day.  We can only hope.

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