Based on Biblical Text: Matthew 6:16 (KJV)
Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance; for they disfigure their faces that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
Many “Old Schoolers” can remember the popular singing group called the Platters. They were the smooth “doo wop” group that recorded the song, “I’m a great pretender.” Interestingly, there is a line in the song that says: “I seem to be what I’m not you see.”
I believe that is precisely what Jesus is admonishing the Scribes and Pharisees about in the gospel of Matthew when He says, “Woe unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye devour widows houses, and for a pretense make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation.”
Judas pretended that he loved Jesus when he kissed him, but he was betraying him. Amnon wanted his sister Tamar so badly that he pretended to be sick just to lure her into his bedroom so that he could “know” her.
The Bible reminds us that there is no new thing under the sun. That fact implies that just as there has always been pretending, it is, therefore, no doubt that pretending is prevalent in the world today. Lamentably, the church is not excluded. There is a lot of pretending among us “church folk.”
We pretend that we are singing, but really we are just moving our lips. We pretend to be following along with the invocation when really our eyes are open scanning the sanctuary to see what other folk are doing. We pretend to be meditating when the truth of the matter is, our focus is somewhere else. We often times pretend that we are concerned when we are just being nosey or curious. We sometimes pretend that we are being friendly by giving a fake smile. Some of us actually pretend that we are busy so that others won’t ask us to do anything. At home, we are oft times guilty of pretending to be asleep so that folk won’t disturb us. There are times when we pretend we don’t see certain people when we don’t want to speak to them. We pretend we are sick in order to avoid work and also to get some neglected attention. Lamentably, some folk actually pretend to have to use the bathroom at collection time while others pretend they are putting something into the offering plate with a closed hand.
Many times when we find ourselves in trouble or when someone hurts us badly we pretend that everything is okay. We pretend to be in love when the truth is we are afraid to be forthright. Unfortunately, in an attempt to be the first to tell it, we pretend to know something and we tell it regardless of whether or not we have facts. Many times, we spread the ugly untruth seeming to not really care how hurtful or damaging the rumor might be. Some of us pretend in order to protect.
The truth of the matter is, it is a dangerous thing to pretend. Yet, some of us are great pretenders, “we seem to be what we are not.” But the time will come when the wall of pretense will crumble, and when that happens, we will face humiliation, rejection, and isolation. People will no longer believe or trust us.
Sometimes, it is a good idea for us to look in a mirror and ask ourselves some tough questions. Am I pretending? Am I pretending when I fellowship? Do I really love the Lord and my church, or am I pretending? There is a song we sing in the church that reminds us, “Yes God is real, real in my soul.” This begs the question, do I really care about others, or am I just pretending? Am I moved with compassion or selfishness? Am I a great pretender?