Lauren and Mikaela--identical twins living on opposite coasts--blog about the story of life and their adventures in faith.

3.26.2010

Stop and Smell the Fake Roses

Our family has a strange tradition. Once or twice a year, on very special occasions, we go to our favorite Chinese restaurant in town, the only one to receive our patronage. We all sit around the huge round table, delight in the ambience, and then someone inevitably grabs the glass vase with the solitary neon, glittery, fabric rose in it. In a move about as cheesy as it gets, we cast furtive glances around the room to make sure no one is watching and then pass the flower around and sniff it. Upon sniffing, of course, we must loudly proclaim how beautiful it smells. And then, to make up for this tradition, we stuff ourselves with Chinese food. We laugh at this because it is so absurd that such a grotesque fake flower could in any way bring the admiration we pretend. But get me started on my top-ten list of fakes, and I won't even waste time pretending they smell good. For example, astro turf is maddening. Who in their right mind dreamed up fake grass, and who wants their yard to sprout prickly, shiny, plastic? It’s just wrong. And, while we’re on the subject, another fake that annoys me are beautiful hardback books that give you a tingling sensation up and down your back and make you salivate just at the thought of reading it, only to reveal upon your opening of the cover: “Abridged.” Major letdown. Henry Phillips, the man who pretended friendship to William Tyndale only to betray him to the death always has made my blood boil. Fake chocolate, 10 inch long fake nails that clack against the keyboard, fake smiles. Fake people.

No, I don’t have an issue with the Bionic Woman, but people who say one thing to your face and then turn around and do another are as annoying as getting an ice-cold glass of water with lemon only to take a long sip and discover the cup was dirty. Take Representative Stupak for instance. Or don’t, if you want to keep your blood pressure reasonably low. Jesus, I believe, agrees with this disgust at fakeness. Heading His list of fakes was the Pharisees: "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. (Matthew 23:27-28)”

The problem, though, is that I notice and am so annoyed by other people’s inconsistencies and whitewashed tombs, but I am comfortable with my own, even as they are glaringly obvious to those around me. How maddening it must be to them when I put up a fake front, save certain conversations for certain groups, and wear certain clothes in certain settings. Where, then, is the line which divides politeness from fakeness? Where is the barrier between tact and hypocrisy? At what point does simply avoiding a conflict change to simply avoiding the subject? Ralph Waldo Emerson put it pithily: “Every man alone is sincere. At the entrance of a second person, hypocrisy begins.”

Hypocrisy is changing your words and actions depending on the people who are with you. I’ve always been a get-to-the-point kind of person, and small talk secretly irritates me, for I wish we could sidestep all that and dig deep with things we really care about. But is our conversation with a non-Christian going to be the same as it is with a Christian? By necessity, it will be somewhat different, and there is certainly no point in bringing up useless peripheral subjects that will only cause conflict. But why should we praise Christ in one breath to the fellow believer and then discuss the merits of Daylight Savings Time with the non-believer? If anything, we should be more desperate to share the praises of Christ with the non-believer, for he is Hell-bound. Jesus knew that Judas was a fake, but He didn’t blink at teaching him the same things He taught his devoted disciples. And, for some reason, I have a feeling that John kept his camel’s hair outfit on no matter who he went to see. No pinstriped tuxes for him!

Hypocrisy, however, can also be saying the right things all the time but never following through with your actions. Jesus gave the parable of the two sons in Matthew 21 in which one son said he would not obey, but he did. The other promised to obey, but he did not. The only one that really obeyed, then, was the one who did, not just said. For this reason, Jesus said, tax collectors and harlots would enter the kingdom of God before the Pharisees. Why? Because Jesus values action more than all the fake genteel speech in the world, and the tax collectors and harlots actually put Christ’s commands into action, while all the Pharisees did was make small-talk among themselves about obeying, all the while their heart motives were wrong. At the time, this was hypocrisy at its best, but we Christians have since perfected the art of saying one thing while doing another to such an extent that we hardly know we are doing it.

Words without action are fake. Adjusting my actions, words, and appearance that are in line with Scripture to avoid embarrassment or discomfort is taking them out of line with Scripture, and it is also fake. It is entering the grounds of astro turf, making myself prickly, shiny, and plastic. It is molding myself in the image of others, rather than maintaining the image of Christ and encouraging others to do so as well. And that fakeness is about as disgusting as American cheese or a silver-plated ring that turns black.

6 comments:

  1. I was doing fine until you started applying it personally... eek! I've got some learning to do.

    Thanks SO much!

    -Penn

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  2. This is something I've been learning this week, reading Matt. 6, about praying in a closet and fasting in secret. My goal should be God's glory not mine.

    This was excellent! Thank you Lauren.
    btw, I have this little game of guessing which of you is writing as I read the post, and usually I can guess, I don't know what it is, I guess you have different styles? :)

    love
    Kelsey :o)

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  3. Penn--That's exactly why I wrote this post, because I have a lot of learning to do in this area! Thanks for your comment--it made me smile! (-:
    Keilah--Thank you so much! Btw, I was reading in the Old Testament this week and discovered the city of "Keilah" (-: Is this where your parents got the inspiration for your beautiful name?
    Kelsey--Believe it or not, as I was writing this post, I was flipping through Matthew, and my eye fell on chapter 6, and I thought, "Hmmm, that's kind of applicable!" Your "game" made me laugh out loud! Some people can't even tell us apart in person, so if(actually, I hope, when!) we ever get to actually meet, you'll definitely have a head-start! I know the difference between Mikaela and my writing styles, but it's quite interesting that you have picked up on it!

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  4. I love this. And your conclusion is spot on...words without action are fake. As they say..."I'll believe it when I see it." You must do! :)

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  5. I'm so glad I could make you smile. (that's one of my favorite things to do)
    In my short time following your blog, you've made me smile quite a lot, so it's only fair I return the favor. =D

    -Penn

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