Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Act

When I was a kid, I used to love to pretend. I didn’t just pretend, I really acted out the parts that I was playing. I remember one time I was going to play police. It was very hot summertime, but I went inside to change into long pants. My parents told me that I couldn’t and I began to cry. I said that policemen didn’t wear shorts. I think I took my pretending to the extreme level.

This pretending actually came in handy when I began getting involved in drama. I took a course in drama in high school, but was not in any productions. However, when I was a student at North Greenville College, I was asked to be in their production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I was one of the rustics. It was a small part, but enough for the theatre bug to bite me.

After I left North Greenville I transferred to Erskine College where I was even more involved. I appeared in two or three productions each year while at Erskine College and Erskine Seminary. I won two “Erskies”, the name given to the award voted on by the student body for the drama department. I was also named to Alpha Psi Omega a national dramatics honor fraternity.

Shakespeare wrote “All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players; they have their exits and their entrances, and one man in his time plays many parts”. We play many parts in our lives. We are a son or daughter, a brother or sister, father or mother, employee or employer, etc.

We also pretend in many other areas also. We pretend that it didn’t hurt when our husband or wife forgot our birthday again. We pretend that we are fine when our best friend doesn’t call for weeks. We pretend that we’ll “be better off” when we lose our job or the divorce is about to be final. Many times, we also pretend that our Christian faith is strong and that we have all the answers.

The Christian group Casting Crowns has a song called Stained Glass Masquerade. The lyrics penetrate deep within those of us who have ever pretended that everything is OK when we are falling apart on the inside.

Is there anyone that fails? Is there anyone that falls?
Am I the only one in church today feelin' so small?
Cause when I take a look around, everybody seems so strong.
I know they'll soon discover that I don't belong.
So I tuck it all away, like everything's okay. 
If I make them all believe it, maybe I'll believe it too. 
So with a painted grin, I play the part again. 
So everyone will see me the way that I see them
Are we happy plastic people, under shiny plastic steeples?
With walls around our weakness, and smiles to hide our pain
But if the invitation's open, to every heart that has been broken
Maybe then we close the curtain on our stained glass masquerade

We have all put on the mask. We have all played the role and sat in church and sang the hymns and heard the preacher, all the while wondering how everyone else seems so strong. We know how to say the words. We know how to dress and act. But do we know that Jesus doesn’t care about any of those things? All he wants is us, every part of us. He calls us to the great banquet just as we are, not as we think we need to be. When we think we can disguise our ugliness with an act, we are truly mocking God. When we realize that the church is not a refuge for the righteous, but a hospital for the broken, wounded, weary, and scared, then we will truly see Christ move in our midst.

When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the "sinners" and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: "Why does he eat with tax collectors and 'sinners'?" On hearing this, Jesus said to them, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners." (Mark 2:16-17 NIV)

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