Surrounded byÂ Great Pretenders
Are you a great pretender? We seem to live in a world surrounded byÂ pretenders. I am just as guilty as anyone else to being a pretender. A pretender of what I really feel, attempting to be perhaps what I am not. Showing the world our best side, our happy face, seems to be what we do best even when we feel otherwise.
All the World’s a Stage, wrote William Shakespeare, and we have embraced it wholeheartedly making ourselves often appear what we are not. Some of us are just better actors than others making the pretender more believable. It is one thing to pretend you are well when you are not but what happens when love enters the picture. Does being a pretender then change the stage set?
In 1955 The Platters released the song The Great Pretender written by Buck Ram. The song reached the number one spot in 1956 on both the pop and R&B charts. Everyone seems to identify with the lyrics, of The Great Pretender,Â the heartbroken individual who was just pretending he was not hurting, but what about those of us who are moving through lifeÂ as a love pretender? Pretending all is well when we feel much less than that. The songÂ echoes ofÂ being a pretenderÂ of showing theÂ feelingÂ of happiness when we really feel lonely. A world of make-believe when our heart feels it can noÂ longer hide the hurt inside. Does being this type of pretender affect how we view others?
What happens when we have played this game so long on our own stage that we become indifferent to the hurting hearts of others? Many of us have put up great social barriers,Â playing the game of being polite very well, while silently judging within. WeÂ falsely seemÂ to care and show compassion when we really do not understand or truly care about what others are going through. We spew forth a lot of “bless your hearts” and “I’m so sorry” while being a pretender of sympathy while inside our own hearts, the love has hardened or at least has become thick and stagnant.
God tells us that our love should be true and genuine to all people whether we understand their situations or not. We are not to be pretenders of our own blights and situations anymore that we are to pretend we careÂ about others and their situations. We,Â as Christians, areÂ to love deeply all people and frankly it is not always an easy task but it is a command. Real love requires an effort of more than just money; it takes a dedicated commitment of time and a personal connection. Our focus verse this week is from Romans 12:9;
Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. (NLT)
Â Great Pretenders Belong on a Real Stage Not the Stage of Life
The role of love is a really big deal when we look to our faith and beliefs as Christians and there is no room for a pretender. We can research all the way back to the Old Testament where God has given us the great commandment of love and loving others. (Leviticus 19:18) Paul tells us in Galatians that the whole law can be summed up to loving our neighbors as ourselves. (Galatians 5:14) And for those of us who need further evidence on the tremendousÂ importance of love and the commands of love that God gave us, Jesus makes it very clear in Mark 12:29-31.
Jesus replied, “The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The Lord our God is the one and only Lord. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.” (NLT)
We have clearly established through Biblical scripturesÂ that God has commanded us to love others since ancient time but what are we to do with that love? We should take our love for others and genuinely serve by helping others become better people. We are to do this job as a body of believers together to show genuine loveÂ as God shows it to us, much likeÂ a waterfall. Genuine love will equal genuine faith. (1 TimothyÂ 1:5)
I must give credit to ChrisÂ Tomlin’s recently released new song,Â in May of this year, regarding God’s love and a waterfall. If you have ever watched a waterfall you know theyÂ run without control with a great thrust pushing forwardÂ in a wild and free way. If we imagine the power and force of a waterfall and how it refreshes, surrounds, and rains down onÂ everything in its path below, we get a great analogy of how God loves us like a waterfall. We are made in the image of God and should be striving every day to make ourselves more holy and it is with love, the greatest commandment,Â that we can achieve the steps we need to grasp hold of the holiness of God. We need to take our real genuine love and help others we see in any manner neededÂ within our power so they can see the love of ChristÂ in us. ThereÂ is simply no room for pretendersÂ and the tasks of love.
As we volunteer with church or with many other worthy and people oriented organizations for the good of humanity we must ask ourselves are we doing it for love, real genuine love, or do we have ulterior motives? Have we created or are attemptingÂ self-imposed obligations,Â public social enhancements, or are we faking our way to being recognized? If genuine love is not involved we can be the great pretender of all time to the world but we will never fool God. So how are we to use our genuine love so that it is acceptable to God?
We must first realize that if we have genuine love for othersÂ that love will never do any wrong and we will have fulfilled the requirements of God’s law. (Romans 13:10) But with our love we should help others be better people; we are to do more than just be encouraged to do good works. (Amos 5:15) There are many ways to do this whether it is helping clothe, feed, or shelteringÂ the people of our communities or afar. It is working within our own legal and social systems to help each other be better people. We must remove the “us and them” mentality and move to the good of the “we”. We must hold tightly to the good. So what is the good, can we make good,Â and can we hold tightly to the good alone?
When commanded to love we are not only commanded to love individually but collectively as the body of Christ. It is here that the good can be achieved and completed. We, together, are the good that must be held tightly as theÂ evil in the world surrounds us. It is with the entire body that we will see the good. Max Lucado, in his book, You’ll Get Through This, givesÂ an excellent description ofÂ the vast definition of what good is and how it comes about;
When you sip on a cup of coffee and say, ”This is good,” what are you saying? The plastic bag that contains the beans is good? The beans themselves are good? Hot water is good? A coffee filter is good? No, none of these. Good happens when the ingredients work together: the bag opened, the beans ground into powder, the water heated to the right temperature. It is the collective cooperation of the elements that creates good.
We, as the body of Christ, are like the “good” of the coffee. Together with our genuine love for others we work to create the good. We are not the “good” individuallyÂ but asÂ groupedÂ together. Only when we, the elements,Â work together in cooperation is the goodÂ producedÂ that we needÂ to hold tightly to along withÂ our genuine love for others. No room for pretenders in these elements only the genuine artifacts.
We must stop being a pretender! There is no room for pretending with God nor will it do us any good as we will not fool Him who sees our true hearts. It is only together with genuine love and with the other elements that make up the body that we can achieve the things thatÂ God has tasked us to do here on earth. It isÂ both the first and second commandments we have been given and it sums all the commandments up into one. If we are with genuine love working together then we are fulfilling all the commandments and we are no longer part of the great pretender group.
This week and beyond let us all strive to stop being a pretender and be ones togetherÂ in the body of Christ with genuineÂ love that will makeÂ a true difference in the lives of others glorifying God all along the way.
Love in Christ,
Post Script: AsÂ we move from the last full month ofÂ the unscheduled summer and back into traditional routines we should think carefully about the obligationsÂ or commitmentsÂ we make and strive for onesÂ in which weÂ will showÂ genuine love working with all the elements for the goodÂ of all people. We should strive to love like God as much as possible. So let us all love God-like, as wild and free waterfalls surrounding others with our genuine love.
What are Your Thoughts about BeingÂ a Pretender?
Do you find yourself volunteering for differentÂ yet good organizations, groups, or committees as a pretender, because your heart and love really are not there? Have you found yourself feeling indifferent to others because perhaps you feel you’ve beenÂ taken advantage of? Are you surrounded by so much wrong that you are getting lost in the sea of it and cannot find the love you need to work with others to hold tightly to the good? Are you working together with others as the body of Christ to achieve the good with those who also have genuineÂ love? JoinÂ us in discussion on these or other related topics.