About a month or so ago, I was playing indoor soccer and was sitting in the stands before the game putting on my shin-guards and waiting for everyone else to show up. All of a sudden this guy showed up whom I presumed to be on the other team. He was wearing “official” warm up pants and matching jacket for the LA Galaxy, a professional soccer team that David Beckham plays for. I didn’t think too much of it, even though it broke one of my fashion rules but I didn’t hold that against him.
A couple minutes until game time, he started to warm up, and he took off his warm-ups to reveal LA Galaxy team shorts, Galaxy socks, and an LA Galaxy number 23 jersey.
There is a certain process that I like to do before I get ready to play soccer. I am kind of a nerd about it, and even though I swear to you I just play for fun, there is a sort of pride thing that I hold on to playing soccer. Sure, the majority of the teams I play for stink, but I have a process of getting ready for a game. With any sport, including a pick up game of basketball, I swear by a rule: if you think you look good, you feel good; if you feel good, you play well. I like to wear headbands and socks that match, that sort of thing to make me feel like I look good. Call it superstition or whatever; it’s just what I do.
But this guy…
I suppose there is a fine line between the genuine and the counterfeit.
When a guy shows up wearing what a pro would wear, I guess you assume that he would be good at whatever it is he is trying to be. For example, if you went into your lawyer’s office and he was decked out in an Armani suit or something, you’d trust that he was at least decent at his job. This guy was like a janitor in an Armani suit, the skills didn’t really match the jersey.
I’m no Pelé by any stretch of the imagination, and I’m not bashing on this dude’s skills, but it just made me relate it to my real life, and to my counterfeit life as well.
As Christians, we are pretty at this aren’t we? Hiding behind the fig leaf suits that we have sewn together with our sins, knowing that God created us to not hide. We think we look good on the outside, so we feel good, and since we feel good, there is no reason to change.
But we have forgotten that however fine the suit, it is still covering up the sinner.
By the way, I’m totally guilty of all of these things.
We hide from one another, looking spiffy, so that no one sees through us. As Christians, we do not fear sin, we fear transparency, we fear being found out, and we fear being exposed.
Being a Christian is a lot like looking into a mirror, being religious gives of terrific guidelines to what we should and shouldn’t do, don’t sin and so on. And as we look into the mirror we can see ourselves fully, we see the blemishes and the mistakes, and we see the insides and the things we hide from everyone else. But the beauty of grace allows us to realize that as we look into that same mirror, we aren’t just looking at ourselves, but we are looking into the Body of Christ. The blemishes I have, I share with you, and the blemishes you have, you share with me, and together we share it with the Body.
There is no difference between you and I. We both ate the fruit in the garden; we both put on our clothes, tucked tail, and ran. Why must we act like the juice of the fruit is not on our tongue? Why do we hide?
Even in a Facebook and Twitter culture, it seems as though we are crying out to be exposed, openly offering ourselves to the masses, but unfortunately the self we are offering is the counterfeit self, the one that is dressed ready to play on a team we are not good enough to play on, one that is dressed in the fine suits of our hiding spots. We are exposing the counterfeit, not the sinner.
It is one thing to pretend to be the best, as in the case of the counterfeit Galaxy, but it is another thing to be real with yourself and real with others.
When we look in the mirror, we see ourselves. We see the Body of Christ. But we also see God as well. When we share the scars and imperfections of us all, we find the Kingdom, we find rest, and we find our identity in the image of the one who created us. Because it is our reflection, our broken reflection, in that mirror that shows the face of God, and by grace it is made complete and beautiful once again.