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I’ve Gotta Be Me

I’ve Gotta Be Me

The problem is that we can’t get from here to there without revealing our hidden agendas and taking off our masks, if only to ourselves. And the process won’t be very pretty. It involves a slow death and it’s painful. What can you expect from God if he answers your dangerous prayer?

Our Ego is the Size of Our Ego

Our egos are much bigger than we thought and our motives can be very different. We are more selfish and mixed-up than we thought.

The most dangerous prayer you can pray (if God deems to answer it) is, “God, show me myself.”

Jesus said that no human was good (Mark 10:18) because anything that is truly “good” must be for goodness (i.e., God’s) sake. It is no longer good to do something for the sake of God or our neighbor.

Our Success is the Product of Our Efforts

The solution is much harder to find once we have identified the problem. We are not as successful as we hoped.

If you’re part of an organization (that would be the church) that is supposed to be marked by purity, goodness, and faithfulness, and you’re having a hard time living up to that mark, you have to either leave or fake it, even sometimes fake it to yourself. Masks are the answer.

Standards are so high, and there are so few! If you read the Bible much and don’t feel horribly guilty and convicted, you’re a fruitcake.

Even a quick glance at the Ten Commandments or Sermon on Mount, as well as the list of sins that the apostle Paul was known to proclaim, should make even the most devoted Christian wince. Matthew 23 is so difficult for me to read that I have stopped. That’s where Jesus says some very unpleasant things about the finest, most obedient, and thoroughly righteous people of his time. If you’re a Christian, heavily involved in your church and doing the best you can, don’t read Matthew 23 . . . It is especially important to do this at night, if you are trying to sleep. It’s not just that “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9) or that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23); it’s the realization that You can find out how to do this by clicking here. Heart is the most deceitful of all. It is a good idea to use a different language. We have all sinned terribly and fallen short of God’s glory.

There are two kinds of people in the world—the bad people who know it and the bad people who don’t. It’s a secret that makes removing the masks quite difficult and painful, but it is also a secret that makes removing them possible.

The Holiness of God

We worship God, who is much more holy than what we can imagine.

Isaiah 6 has a lot of importance in the Bible. The prophet Isaiah was in the temple cleaning the candelabras and whistling an old Jewish song when the “real” God showed. It wasn’t what Isaiah expected. The temple’s foundations started shaking, there was smoke, and six large and terrifying winged creatures sang at the top of their lungs to the God whose robe filled the temple, “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” (Isaiah 6:3).

What do you believe Isaiah did? How hard had he tried to be? Do you think that he mentioned the many ways he served God in his life? How about putting on a smiley face (his mask) and kneeling quietly in prayer, thanking God for the “peace that passed understanding”? Are you crazy? Isaiah was speechless in front of a holy, frightening God. When he finally managed to say something, I suspect it came out as a croak: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!” (Isaiah 6:5).

It is a normal, expected, sane, and rational response of someone who encounters an holy God. All the laws in the Bible, all the lists of sins and all the calls to holiness and purity are not meant to make us better, or at least, not as a primary reason. They are there to help us come face to face with the real God, whose thoughts and ways are different from our own (Isaiah 55:8) so that we can take our first step towards freedom. This first step does not involve getting better in all areas, but rather looking at the absolute, terrifying purity of God.

For God’s sake, don’t waste your sin! It’s a gift God gave you to set you free and it may be the most important gift (after Christ, of course) he’s given to those he loves when those he loves are aware of it. And if you think of yourself as good, pure, and righteous, it’s a curse for a lot of reasons, but the primary one is that it’s simply not true. The prognosis quality is dependent on the accuracy in the diagnosis. A physician who tells you that your cancer is a just a mild case of the flu may make you feel better, but that physician isn’t doing you any favor.

Adapted from Steve’s book, Hidden Agendas: Dropping Masks That Keep Us Apart.

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