You may not know that Chris and I declared bankruptcy in Oklahoma in the early 2000’s and that Chris is currently employed by Seven Eleven. Yeah, we didn’t know that either until about a week ago when Chris applied for a credit card for his business expenses and was denied. I immediately thought it was an instance of identity theft, so we called and placed a fraud alert on Chris’ credit report. You may already know that a fraud alert on a credit report alerts a potential creditor that a person’s identity has been compromised and requires a creditor to exercise greater diligence in verifying the identity before granting credit. Upon further investigation, Chris was not the victim of an identity thief; he was the victim of the credit reporting agency. They had mistakenly entered information belonging to a person with a name very similar to Chris’. We are still trying to get that cleared up.
Sometimes I wonder if Jesus might want to put a fraud alert on me to indicate that my identity as a Christ follower has been compromised. I listened to a podcast today and have read several blogs lately issuing a call to authenticity – a challenge to quit livin‘ the life of a poser. Of all the things I want to be in life, the one thing I want to be most is the real deal. I want to be a real-deal Christ follower. But I have secondary desires that want you to think I’m a good mom, and a devoted Christian, and a great housekeeper, and an ideal wife. There is a part of me that wants to sell you a fraudulent package of togetherness. When I allow those secondary desires to supersede my commitment to realness before Christ and you, I am a poser.
And posin‘ ain’t harmless. Our small group leader often revisits the truth that posers are more detrimental to the cause of Christ than nonbelievers – a claim that is substantiated in unchristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks About Christianity…And Why It Matters by David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons. The Barna Group researched the perception of Christians among sixteen to twenty-nine year-olds and not surprisingly hypocritical was a common descriptor. Check out some observations from this study:
- We need to “realize that what [outsiders] see from Christians creates their ideas about the reality and authenticity of following Christ” (43).
- “Our culture considers having a good image to be one of the highest goals in life” (43).
- “Young outsiders believe that rather than being able to help them sort through the image-is-everything world, followers of Christ are playing the very same mind games that they are” (44-45).
- “Young adults have seen our lifestyles and heard our excuses, and they still land on the label ‘hypocritical’ ” (48).
- “Transparency simply means admitting what the Bible says about us: we are fallen people who desperately need God in our lives – everyday” (55).
- “Transparency disarms an image-is-everything generation” (56).
- “Christian rhetoric without tangible acts of love is hypocrisy” (65).
And the truth of it is – Jesus totally called out the posers. And He repeatedly lit them up. And sometimes what is in me is so ugly and selfish and harsh and hard that I want to hide it from myself, much less share it with you. So I admit that I am what the Bible says I am – I am spiritually bankrupt, and in my genuine pursuit of Him I find my only hope for legitimacy and peace and fulfillment and joy and love and mercy.
Turns out there was a shade of truth to our bankruptcy, huh?