Are You for Real?
I just got back from our school’s annual high school retreat. All the sessions we had were great. But my favorite was the one where our speaker addressed “pretend Christians.” I loved that talk because it was during a talk like that, at a Christian school, when I really began to get serious about my faith.
At a Christian school, especially, it’s easy to “fake” Christianity. The kids know all the “right” answers, know how to act, how to play the part. But, for some, it’s just an act. Their hearts are not in it. “Jesus” is the right answer to most questions asked in Bible class, but that’s about it. Because of that, some students graduate from our school and, seemingly, graduate from Christianity. They did their time, it was (mostly) fun, but then they move on. Our hearts as teachers are broken.
Why does this happen? I believe it’s because we have far too many “cultural Christians” in our schools (and churches). These are folks who are raised in a Christian environment and live by the “rules” during their childhood. If their growing up years were pleasant, then they might look back fondly on the faith, but decide it’s just not for them. If they had bad experiences, they might hate anything to do with Christianity and run as far from it as possible the minute they leave home.
But I would argue, as our speaker did this week, that those guys aren’t truly Christians. Sure, they can quote the verses and know when to answer “Jesus”, but they haven’t let those verses change them, they haven’t really come face-to-face with Jesus. Because, if they truly knew Him, had truly enountered him, had truly understood the words in the Bible, they couldn’t walk away. They couldn’t abandon the peace, joy, and wonder of a relationship with the God of the universe to pursue a life that is so much less satisfying.
“But…” I know. Lots of people, lots of arguments coming to your mind right now. We are great at justification, great at the role-playing. But be real with yourself, like I had to do over 25 years ago when I admitted I was faking the Christian life, saying the right answers with my mouth, but not truly believing in my heart.
Admitting my hypocrisy was embarrassing, but it was necessary. And it began a journey that I would never have imagined. A journey that, at times, was terribly hard and at times was almost unbearably wonderful. It is the life we are all made to lead, whether we accept it or not.
So I leave you with the challenge our students were left with: Are you for real? Are you all in? I won’t promise an easy life – Jesus guarantees it won’t be easy – but it is right, and it is full, and the rewards are out of this world!