Some Things Shouldn’t Be Faked

Netflix has uploaded a series of videos that were designed as countdown videos to help families ring in the New Year with some pomp and circumstance. The purpose of the family friendly countdown video addresses a major problem with families on New Year’s Eve. Apparently, telling kids they need to go to bed before it is actually midnight is a problem for some families and Netflix discovered a way to help families out. The videos feature some of the most popular cartoon and real life characters to fire up the kids so they can count down New Year at 6 PM, 8 PM, 10 PM or perhaps even earlier in the day. The actual time is really not the point. The experience of counting down and popping the cork – even for kids – seems to be a “can’t miss” and a “we can’t disappoint them” event for families these days. No need for truth or transparency in the family. Just fake it. Thanks Netflix for helping families across the world get past this end of the year calendar nuisance without making mom/dad seem so bad.

Countdown 2016     (Check it out!)

Please hear me when I say that I am not against Netflix, New Year’s Even Countdown videos or sending kids to bed early. It is highly likely that I will use and practice all three this Thursday night. I am against parents who deliberately lie to their children, media companies who intentionally aid such deception, and cultural experiences that tempt families and/or churches to bend the rules of what is right so that fun and cool always comes first. (Use your imagination on that last one for a minute.)

Faking that we are excited about getting socks for Christmas might be ok. Faking that your Aunt Polly’s casserole tastes good is probably a good idea. Faking that you are surprised that the New England Patriots are the NFL’s biggest cheaters might even be acceptable if you are trying to keep family harmony and peace on earth. A 40+ year old former male athlete faking an injury to get out of a tackle football game with younger men is certainly alright. These are things that can be faked without losing integrity or credibility, but there is a long list of things that shouldn’t ever be faked.

Here are just a few…

We can’t fake parenting by taking the easy way out. Our kids liking us can not be our highest priority. Our kids following us into maturity is. We can’t fake our maturity or authenticity. Kids know and others do to.

We can’t fake friendship with people so that our network is expanded or we have a fall back plan to prevent loneliness or boredom. True friendship accepts others as they are and enjoys them that way. True friends are not always the takers of the relationship. Sometimes (often?) we are the givers.

We can’t fake our fitness by buying new shoes or clothes. Eating healthy only helps when we exercise and sleep well. Faking fitness is an easy thing these days. Everyone dresses the part. Few people have the medical records to back up their wardrobe. Faking it puts us in a company of people trying to look and feel better, but in the end we know that we are really out of control and undisciplined.

We can’t fake love with our spouse or special other. We love them or we don’t and we shouldn’t fool ourselves or them. It just isn’t fair. ( If you are uncertain if you are faking love or not review 1 Corinthians 13. If you aren’t loving like that, you are a fake.)

We can’t fake our worship of God with tears and/or a happy heart. Those emotions could very well be moments of escape from our fear, worry or doubt. Worship likely does make us feel good, but worship is not about feelings. It is about God. Worshipping God is daily and is full of the details of our life including our actions, attitudes, assets and ambitions. Worshipping God consumes everything or it consumes nothing!

We can’t fake liking ourselves either. Many people hate who they are or what they have become, but see no way out. So they fake self acceptance by indulging or insulating their ego with pride and self deception. Yet, they are simply covering up the shame and disappointment they have with themselves by faking it day after day.

Truthfully, I have been a fake in all of these ways and more. It is painful to admit it, but to deny it just increases my status as a serial faker. I know you have too. Faking is not an anomaly in our culture. It is an epidemic. You might even say that our culture is suffering from a pandemic crisis of fakery. God’s grace is the cure. Don’t try any other remedy because it won’t work. Just try on the true clothes of Christ and see what happens. It will eliminate our need for popular parenting tips. It will forge friendships that last through the ages and across the miles (even from TX to Ohio). God’s grace will transform our love of self into a love of Christ and towards a surrendered love of others that is pure and holy. And when God’s grace grips our soul we become instruments of worship with our whole body, mind, and spirit.

Some things just shouldn’t be faked. Faking doesn’t help anyone or anything. It only deceives and divides. Real life and real relationship is impossible as long as faking is the foundation. Embrace truth in all things, but do so with love and concern for others at all times. Choosing not to fake things is not an excuse to be a jerk. Just an opportunity to be real.

Nobody needs a fake in their life on any level. It is a learned behavior that needs to be and can be absolved.  We just have to make the choice – daily.

So what are you choosing today?

From Here to There

 

 

advent

Distance is a big deal to me right now. That is to say that I am thinking a lot about the distances in my life that complicate things. Space and separation makes each day, each choice, each thought, awkward and at times painful. Most of the times I am thinking about how I can get from here to there.

I am thinking specifically about the separation between me and my family right now. We are separated by miles, by time zones, by state lines, by the calendar, by schedules. Distance is a challenge that is not easily remedied and there is little one can do to prepare for it. You just have to work around the challenge and plan for life that is closer together. If that is not possible you make plans to make the very most of the times that you do have together so that distance does not discourage your love and/or concern for others. Separation should never cause us to not care and not involve ourselves as much as possible in the lives of those we love the most. Our distance will be closed on December 20th and that may very well be the last time I ever allow them out of my sight and reach. 🙂

Advent is about separation and distance and life interrupted. It is about looking for a messiah and longing for God to put the hope back in our world. Advent is about a great distance that seems to be separating the right now from the right world that the prophets pointed us towards. Advent is about waiting, anticipating, preparing for that one moment in time that makes everything different. Advent is the season of separation that makes our Christmas so meaningful. Advent helps us to hold our breath with anticipation as we look upon the face of the child-king for the first time and hear the angels singing his prelude to glory.

But if we are not careful we might think that the promises of God through Isaiah, Jeremiah, Malachi, etc have little to do with us. We might feel separated from God’s good work in Jesus and that we are waiting for something else to occur. Perhaps we might think we are due another “big gift” of God because the first was for Israel or for another age. We might let all of our Christmas joy be wrapped up in a future hope or a bet on a better tomorrow. We might spend every day and sing every song thinking about how we can get from here to there. We shouldn’t.

What God does for Israel (in fact what He does for all the world) in and through Christ, He does for us. We are not separated from this good news and great act by distance, time, space, or anything else. God’s plan is to bring heaven and earth together at long last fulfilling His promise to Abraham, keeping His law to Israel, crowning His eternal dominion though line of David, and completing His prophecy to the exiles. It is in Christ – then and now, in Bethlehem and in Boston, for Israel and for Iceland – that this new kingdom is inaugurated.

The question is not “how do we get from here to there?” It is a question of “What does it mean that God has come from there to here?” It means everything. It means that distance is not our enemy any longer. It means that time can not put our salvation in a box and keep it from us. It means that the spaces in our life are not empty of God’s promises/presence, but utterly full of His presence in every nook and cranny that concerns us. It means that before God helps us, saves us, or protects us, He is just “with us.” And that is the good news of our God who saw us here and rushed from the heavenly there to seek us and to save us.

Isaiah 9:2-7—————————————————

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness— on them light has shined. You have multiplied the nation, you have increased its joy; they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest, as people exult when dividing plunder. For the yoke of their burden, and the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor, you have broken as on the day of Midian. For all the boots of the tramping warriors and all the garments rolled in blood shall be burned as fuel for the fire. For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His authority shall grow continually, and there shall be endless peace for the throne of David and his kingdom. He will establish and uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time onward and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.