Can I Bear This Burden?
When I was a strapping youth, my older brothers were in a college ministry called Missionary Baptist Student Fellowship (MBSF). It was the most amazing thing. The program was made up of all these cool college men and women who were so talented, and were always excited to serve. Once per year, the group would come through Murfreesboro, Arkansas on their way to a weekend retreat in western Arkansas. On Friday, they would drop by our house, and the church would feed them. Then, on Sunday, they would come back through and visit our church. They might also sing a few songs and even perform a skit or two.
The group of skits I liked best was episodes of a character called Super Christian. He wasn't really so much a Super Christian as he was an undercover Christian. But we loved the skits. I recall one skit in particular, in which Super Christian is sitting in a cafeteria. His mission is to say a prayer without anyone noticing. He goes through an amazing series of distractions to get his prayer said; pretending to drop his napkin, losing a contact lens. But all to no avail. Finally, he decides he’s going to write his prayer on a napkin and let God read it! Only, as soon as he places the napkin on the table, another student grabs it and sneezes into it.
See Super Christian: The Movie here.
It had us in stitches, and I have vividly remembered the skit since that day. Other skits addressed different perspectives, like being a Christian on Sundays or when around "church people", but not at other times. But the object lesson was the same. First: Don't be ashamed of who you are. Second: Don't pretend to be someone you aren't.
Fast forward to the lesson my men's class walked through on Sunday. We discussed that our lost friends can, and often do, resist the Holy Spirit, and that it’s our job to be there to lovingly encourage them day after day. We are, essentially, the face of the Holy Spirit to a person who needs to come to Christ.
But, what should that face look like? What kind of person do we have to be in order to be witnesses to the lost around us? What do these lost friends need to see from us?
A simple answer comes straight from scripture. Jesus Himself told us in Matthew 5:37 to let our "yes be 'yes'" and our "no be 'no'". If you were to use your grandparents', or maybe your great grandparents' language, you would translate it to say, "Don't put on airs". In the spirit of this blog's focus on "Super Christian"… don't pretend to be someone you aren't.
As Christians, I think we can all agree that people are supposed to see Christ in us; but it’s not in the form of a "perfect" human being. Instead, we should show Christ to others in the form of a sinner, who has been saved by God's marvelous grace!! We Christians have a hard enough time navigating this world with its distractions and temptations. Do we really want the burden of having to pretend to be a Super Christian for those around us? Many of us, at times, appear to want that though.
If you look back on your life and your behavior, do you see someone who often switched into Super Christian mode when somebody important showed up? Someone who made sure to "clean up" anytime a brother, sister, or close friend was around? Do you see someone who went to extraordinary lengths to watch their language (or maybe even their diet???) when those certain persons were watching?
Let me tell you from experience, it's a burden we can't hope to bear. It's a task that will eventually leave us embarrassed and humiliated, with a damaged testimony. There is no way we will ever measure up to Jesus. We already know that don't we? After all, it's the basis on which we come to know we need Jesus as our Savior.
So, why do we even try? What is it that motivates us to attempt to be someone we are not? It can't be scripture can it? After all, Jesus was pretty clear about this wasn't He? Even Paul, who is arguably the greatest evangelist of all time, taught us humility when he called himself the "chiefest of sinners" (1Tim 1:15) and "the least of the apostles" and deemed himself "unworthy" (1Cor 15:9).
We can blame peer pressure or even low self-esteem for our attempts to act like Super Christian. However, like most everything else that trips us up in life, it's a matter of incomplete faith in the Word of God. If I don't have faith that God's Word means what it says, I'm eventually going to test that faith by trying something that doesn't agree with God's Word.
We read where Jesus says, "Let your yes be 'yes' and your no be 'no'", and where Paul says, "For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle"… but at some point we come to doubt that God's Spirit in us is all we need to accomplish what He calls us to do every day of our lives; to be witnesses to those around us.
Paul said this, "…I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day" (2Tim 1:12). So let's not be ashamed either! Let's let our yes be "yes" and our no be "no". Anything more is a burden we were never meant to bear! And when people ask us why, tell them about our Savior, Jesus Christ!
– Neal Wright, MSBC Deacon