My Failed Masquerade – By Thomas Koester

God wants us as we are and not what we pretend to be.

It’s been a long season of letting go and stripping down. It’s been a time of pruning and preening, until all the old feathers are removed and the old eagle remains perched, cold, vulnerable and flightless. It’s a time of humility and powerlessness. It’s a time whereby I’ve become blind, deaf and mute. I long for even the faintest whisper from the Almighty; a glimpse of his existence and acknowledgement of my prayers.

It’s a time where others are making my decisions, not because I am a king my time of reigning has deminised — no, at this season of my life, God’s interests are sonship and not kingship. God must have his way, or I will become too strong, too hardened and too important. While my flesh yearns for such strength, independence and self-importance, yet, His spirit calls me heavenward.

So, I am sent back into the womb. Into seclusion; into the hands of God to be reformed, kneaded and made pliable, until obedience becomes instinct and my quality becomes refined. The purest gold is crystal clear and what we call beautiful, God calls dross.

In our human fragility and stubbornness we cease the process of humility way too early. If it’s our own deconstructing and demolition, we blame it on the devil. If it is a friend or neighbor facing such travails, we jump in to save and to fix, and so, short-circuit God’s best work in them.

As singer/songwriter, Jill Phillips has so artfully penned into song:

“…God is both the builder and the wrecking ball.”

And this truth gives good reason I cling to hope. Amazingly, through it all, God is masterfully in control of every detail.

However, religious-populace thought has dwarfed my perception and need for God. The extractible biblical principles and acquirable blessings “by cause and effect,” granted me the promised land of goodies without intimate relationship with Yahweh. I have become an idolater and have joined the ranks of “Christians” who have reformed and refashioned our gold and silver into objects of worship. We call it “Yahweh” and have found a way to satisfy our itch for deity worship and hang onto our addiction to sin.

We’ve even learned to worship our worship! And crave “the anointing” more than the Anointer.

We’ve convinced ourselves and others that God as “Love,” trumps God as Justice, Holiness and Righteousness. Oh, but how many of us do cry out for true justice, righteousness and holiness?

…Only mainstream Christianity has reinvented God. He’s become a benevolent and tolerant God, full of winks, giggles and thumbs-up at our sins.

So, I’ve been quiet and introspective. I’ve taken a look under the hood and it’s time for rebuilding and rethinking.

This 21st Century Christianity is finally equivalent to First Century Phariseeism, only without the dark flowing robes and phylacteries.

We’ve convinced ourselves that observances and the mastering of principals and rote make us acceptable to God. We are all whitewashed on the outside, but dead and dirty on the inside. We’ve shut our ears and mouths to our own inner immorality and duplicity. We’ve learned to masterfully direct the attention of others to our outward achievements and ministry appointments.

We’ve become the generation who’d see to the arrest of Jesus; treat him as an imposter, a fake and a phony — his presence an annoyance, and his outspokenness, a disturber of our traditions. We’d cast him out of our carpeted and high-tech sanctuaries and chase him and his homeless faction back to 73rd and West MacArthur.

We simply would not recognize Jesus of Nazareth, nor agree with his lifestyle and “unsuccessful demeanor” and lack of corporate-ness. Jesus’ ideas of “stewardship” would send our Church board members into convulsions.

I’m on a quest to find the simplicity of what Jesus taught. To archeologically excavate and rediscover what decades of religious debris has covered over, like the sands of time.

So, that’s what has been going on in the inside. The outside is a different story. It must be mastered, or it will become my master. And this is my battleground. It’s an ancient battle fought by many, but won by so precious few. My prayer is to join the few by relying on God’s grace and power through Jesus Christ.

Our Sunday morning masquerading must come to an end. The pretense and fakery must be replaced with humility and honesty, or else we become master Pharisees. We must capture our first love again and shed our sophisticated and false adult-selves and become children of God.

God wants us as we are and not what we pretend to be.

I pray that we, as a redeemed people, can leave all the religious fakery behind and get back to true redemption, rejoining God in redeeming this world. Because, if you haven’t noticed, this world is headed full speed towards hell and those that love to masquerade will be there to join them.

“Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.” Revelations 22:15

I hope and pray that we all fail our masquerade. Amen

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