November 8, 2008
With its grayish-green scaled hide, spiked tail, and horned skull, the ferocious beast waddled awkwardly, yet menacingly toward the humble abode of the unsuspecting humans. In the waning darkness of early evening one of the front scales of the sinister serpent glowed eerily making its appearance even more terrifying. Closer and closer, with unmitigated determination, the dastardly dragon trudged toward the hapless inhabitants of the unfortunate home. Just before the beast lifted its paws to break down the walls of the house, the front door opened and a young woman appeared. Instantly she reeled at the sight of the raw, untamed force hungrily staring at her, now barley three feet away. Shrieking in terror the woman reached for something beside her and produced a large plastic bowl. The eyes of the frightening beast glared at the woman, then at the bowl. Suddenly, its mouth opened and out came a spine-chilling roar.
The woman howled with laughter as she directed the beast to grab a handful of delicacies from the bowl. The beast greedily complied dropping the goodies into a plastic pumpkin-bucket it was carrying.
“Tank oo,” shouted the dragon (or was it a dinosaur?) as it rose to its full height of two feet and waddled off in search of the next victims.
Spending Halloween with our grandkids was a pure delight for Babs and me. But for Veronica, our little dragon, just twenty months old, it was an incredible adventure. For the first time she was experiencing the joy of masquerading as someone other than the sweet little girl we all know her to be—and being rewarded for it all with candy, tons of it. What wonderful fun!
It didn’t take long, however, for her little legs to tire of the sweet crusade. When she began playing with the safety glow-stick hanging around her neck, pulling off her costume and fussing to be carried, we knew it was time to bring the adventure to a close. At her home, with some help from her parents, the dragon skin was quickly shed and her true identity reappeared.
“There’s our Ronnie,” we all declared. “We wondered where you’ve been all this time. Did that nasty old dragon eat you? We’re sure glad he spit you back out. You look much better as a little girl.”
Masquerading as someone else can be a source of great amusement, but it has no place in the church. No, I’m not talking about banning Halloween parties. I’m raising my voice against Christ followers who have a bad habit of disguising themselves as something other than who they are in Jesus. Since the Holy Spirit has been rebuking me on the subject this week I hope you don’t mind if I pass along the criticism.
Some Christians, including me, periodically struggle with an identity crisis, or perhaps it’s a recurring case of spiritual amnesia. At any rate, we all too frequently find ourselves masquerading as someone entirely out of character for a true believer. Instead of shining like saints, we participate in deeds of darkness. Instead of wearing His righteousness given to us freely in Christ Jesus, we attempt to create our own costume of good works. Instead of displaying the joy of the Lord, we cover ourselves with gloom and doom. Instead of revealing a life of faith, we wear a mask of fear. Instead of surrounding ourselves with the glory of His abundance, we immerse ourselves in the false reality of our need. Instead of bearing the dazzling uniform of a conquering army, we wrap ourselves in the rags of defeat.
This Christian identity crisis has come to a head this week as I have been inundated by the gloom of those who have been deeply disappointed by the results of our recent election. To hear some commiserate you would think the Kingdom of God itself has been wrested from our hands. I assure you, nothing could be further from the truth. While I may share some of your concerns about the future of our country, I refuse to don the mask of defeat. As a citizen of the kingdom of heaven, my true identity is not wrapped up in a political party, nor is my joy dependant upon who may currently occupy the white house. My identity, rather, is in Christ and my joy rests in Him alone. “…for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” – Galatians 3:27. “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ.” – Philippians 3:20.
Therefore, my brothers and sisters, it is high time we tire of this masquerade. I propose we remove our frightening costumes before that nasty dragon consumes us completely. Let the real beast choke on our true identity; make him spit us out of his mouth. With the help of our Heavenly Father and with the authority of Christ, let’s shed our dragon skins. The world has been wondering where the real Christians have been hiding.
So just who are we, anyway? What do we look like in Christ? The following descriptions of Christ followers are all lifted directly from the pages of God’s Word:
We are sons of the living God, joint heirs with Christ, friends of the Master, brothers of the King, servants of the Savior, and citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven. We are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God. We are like living stones, members of God’s household, a holy temple, a sanctuary of the Holy Spirit. We are God’s work of art, a new creation, dearly loved children, Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. We are born again, bought with a price, redeemed with the precious blood of Christ, and sealed by the Holy Spirit. We are created in His image, predestined according to His plan, made just a little lower than the angels, and crowned with glory and honor.
We have been elected, chosen, adopted, called, justified, sanctified, and glorified. We have been given the mind of Christ, the promise of His presence, the power of His Spirit, the forgiveness of our sins, the assurance of our salvation, victory over death, every spiritual blessing in Christ, and all we need of God’s glorious riches in Jesus. We are inseparable from His love, empowered by His Spirit, filled with His peace, and saved by His grace. We are the sheep of His pasture, the objects of His affection, the apple of His eye, and the praise of His glory. We are overcomers, overly blessed, overjoyed, overflowing with hope, and overwhelming conquerors through Him who love us!
I could go on and on but I think by now you are getting the picture. So let’s have no more identity crisis, no more spiritual amnesia. Throw away the costumes; tear off the masks. It is time we allow the world to see us as we really are. I ask you, since this is our true identity in Christ, why would we ever consider masquerading as anything less?
Bill, a child of God, unmasked