Two pastors who had not seen each other for several years met at a conference they were both attending. When the workshop they were in broke for lunch, they sat down to catch up on old times. The conversation eventually turned to their respective ministries as one asked the other "Jack, how many people in your church would you say are serving?" The younger pastor responded "about 30% of my people are involved in the work. What about your church Bob?" Bob responded, "I would say about 100% of my people are serving."
A bit taken back by the response, Jack blurted out "100%? That is unheard of. You have 100% of your people serving the Lord? That is wonderful my friend!" Bob quickly corrected his friend, "Serving the Lord? Oh no Jack, I have 100% of my people serving, but only about 50% are serving the Lord. The other 50% are serving the World."
The poignant point the pastor was trying to make was that there are just too many Christians who play church. They put on a good show on Sunday morning, but when it comes time to tithe, to visit the sick and shut-ins, or to knock on doors to invite people to church or to Christ, they cannot be found. They don't want to be found. They are putting on a show for others. They don't want to be spiritual; they just want to appear to be.
A Pastor was visiting a young couple in their home. They had just sat down for tea when the back door flew open with a "crash" and in came a very excited little nine year old named Johnny.
From where he entered the room, Johnny could not see the Pastor or father sitting at the dining room table; he could only see his mother. Gasping out words in short breaths after apparently running some distance, he excitedly ran in yelling "mama, mama, mama…I was just out in the (breath) back yard and I was (breath) playing with my (breath) ball and bat and (now breathing better) I saw this big rat run out of the ditch and I threw my bat at him and I thumped him right on top of the head mama. And then, and then I ran over and picked up my bat and I hit him again and then I kicked him and jumped on him and then I pulled his tail and then and then…"
Johnny's word trailed off momentarily as he came around the corner and saw the Pastor and his father sitting at the table. He was obviously surprised most by the Pastor's presence, but without skipping a beat, Johnny quickly became very pious, almost angelic in his demeanor, as he continued in a subdued and softer voice "and then uh, um, the Lord took him home mama."
Just like Johnny, many of us try to paint a better image of ourselves than who we really are. We want people to think more highly of us that we think of ourselves. Oddly, it often works. It seems that it is easy to fool people. They want to believe the best about someone and so they buy what you are selling at face value. And why shouldn't they; for some of us are very good actors!
We can fool others. We can even fool ourselves. But you can never fool God. I suppose that is an admission that the title is a little disingenuous, but honestly, did you really think there might be a way to fool God? Proverbs 15:3: warns us that "The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good/".
You just can't fool God. He searches the hearts and knows our thoughts. God sees everything. Perhaps more importantly, he sees through everything as well. Our attempts to make ourselves look pious and holy when we are not is nothing less than wasted effort with God.
Fortunately for us, God does not deal as harshly with attempted deceit as he did in early church times. In the book of Acts we are introduced to a married couple by the names of Ananias and Sapphira. These two conspired together to lie to God and as a result, their very lives were required. God is much more merciful these days or our churches would be even emptier than they already are.
Do not take God's mercy for granted. Playing church and trying to project a picture of ourselves that is false is tantamount to lying to God. Christians need to be real. Successful Christian living can only come by being who we are and allowing the Holy Spirit to work on our defects. If we are faithful and honest, God will grow the person inside of us that he wants us to be.
If we remember that the eyes of the Lord are in every place beholding OUR evil, it might go a long way for us to try to live up to the image we want everyone to have of us. It might also help us cast off the "Johnny" that lives inside of us.
I liked your thoughts in this article. That was a cute story about Johnny. I'm assuming the last line is cast off instead of cast of. Other than that, I can't think of a thing I would change. Well done.