“Good Pretending”?

“Good Pretending”?

Preacher Huijun - 9 October 2021

Weekend Devotion: "Good Pretending"?

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We all dislike hypocritical people. Our Lord Jesus also often rebuked hypocrites. But what if there is a kind of “good pretending”?

This is exactly what C.S. Lewis said: “To put it bluntly, you are dressing up as Christ…you are pretending…You are not a being like The Son of God, whose will and interests are at one with those of the Father: you are a bundle of self-centred fears, hopes, greeds, jealousies, and self-conceit, all doomed to death. So that, in a way, this dressing up as Christ is a piece of outrageous cheek. But the odd thing is that He has ordered us to do it. Why? … there are two kinds of pretending. There is a bad kind, where the pretence is there instead of the real thing; as when a man pretends he is going to help you instead of really helping you. But there is also a good kind, where the pretence leads up to the real thing.”

 

So, there is such a thing as “good pretending”.

1) This is akin to a child playing dress-up.

This is akin to a child playing dress-up, where the child pretends to be a character of his dream, perhaps a doctor, a policeman, a teacher. When the child is “in character”, he will imitate the actions, tone and mannerisms of the character he is role-playing. Now, “to pretend to be what we are not with the intention to deceive” is very different from “to pretend and imitate being someone you aspire to be”.

 

2) In fact, the Bible tells us to imitate Christ and clothe ourselves with Him.

(Gal 3) 26 So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.

(Ro 13:14) Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.

(Isa 61:10) I delight greatly in the Lord;
    my soul rejoices in my God.
For he has clothed me with garments of salvation
    and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness,
as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest,
    and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.

(Col 3) 12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience… 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

The verses above mention a lot about clothing ourselves with Christ, much as dressing ourselves up as Christ. For those of us who believe in Jesus and are clothed with garments of salvation, God has declared us righteous in Christ. However, our old self still very much controls our thinking, behaviours and choices, even after we became a new creation in Christ. Thus, we must work at putting our old self away and putting on our new self. In other words, now that we belong to Christ and is a child of God, we have to dress and live like it. The act of dressing like Jesus does not make us a child of God, as salvation is not by human works but by God’s grace. Yet, being clothed with Christ, putting on Christ’s virtues, proves that we belong to Him.

 

3) Bad versus good pretending.

Bad pretending is hypocrisy and deception. It is pretending with the intention to deceive or create a falsely good image of oneself. Some Christians may feel conscience-stricken when they try to be Christ-like when they are not. But actually, if a person truly believes in God’s word yet does not live it out, that then is hypocrisy, for he does not practice what he believes in. That’s why (Jas 2:14-17) says that faith without deeds is dead. But “good pretending” is when we try to live out the perfect example of Christ which we aspire to be, when we are not there yet.

 

The conflict between the Spirit and the flesh.

As we attempt to die to our old self and live out our new person in Christ, we will find ourselves doing things our sinful nature resists. Thus, we may have to force ourselves to do the things we do not like, for example, force ourselves to love people we actually dislike, force ourselves to love holiness when we enjoy sinning, and so on. However, that is not hypocrisy or bad pretending, but it is a battle between our flesh and the Holy Spirit dwelling in us. Without such spiritual struggle, we will not truly grow to become more Christ-like. When we seek to become Christ-like, we are not pretending to be what we are not, but we are in fact striving to become what God wants us to transform into. Amazingly, the Bible tells us that when we clothe ourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, we will not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh (Ro 13:14).

 

Thus, live out Christ even if you are not there yet, or if your motives are still mixed.

There is bound to be a transitional phase as we try to die to the old self and let the new self be the dominant nature. In the midst of this, our motives for living out Christ may not be fully pure. Sometimes, we may still want to live out Christ to get human praises or selfish gains. However, we don’t have to wait till our motives are completely pure before we imitate Christ. In fact, it is when we try to imitate Christ more despite our imperfect state, that our motives will become purer and purer. It is a mistaken thought to think that if one is not holy enough, he should not pretend that he is and attempt to do holy stuff. (James 4:17) tells us: If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them. C.S. Lewis also said, “Do not waste time bothering whether you “love” your neighbour; act as if you did. As soon as we do this we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone you will presently come to love him.” Thus, the secret is, do the good you ought to do, even if you do not feel like doing so, then gradually, you will find yourself willing to do it sincerely, without pretence.

 

So brothers and sisters, do not feel that you are pretending hypocritically as you try to live out Christ though you are far from Christ-like. It is pleasing to God if your “good pretending leads up to the real thing”, as Lewis said. God will be delighted if you desire to imitate Christ and battle with your flesh by the help of the Holy Spirit.

Preacher Huijun
Preacher Huijun
huijun@lifechurchmissions.com

Huijun joined The Life Church and Missions (Singapore) as a preacher in 2012. She is effectively bilingual and preaches occasionally at the Chinese service. She graduated from Singapore Bible College and currently lives in Singapore with her husband, Chengji.

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