FYI, this is a faith-based post.
Watched the Brice Willis flick Surrogates the other night and got one of those deja-vu vibes. The movie’s plot builds on a near-future where everyone stays at home in a dark room, plugged into a VR couch while their android surrogates – smarter, sexier, stronger versions of themselves – go out into the world and live smart, sexy, strong lives for them. The movie was fair if predictable. Worth a rental, IMO.
The deja-vu was the realization I feel this way at church lately. The absence of genuine conversation offset by bucket loads of conversational chaff like ‘Praise God, brother!’ and “This is the day the Lord has made, amen?” has me feeling like I’m encountering spiritual surrogates, these showroom shiny, model Christians fashioned after some Divinely-Approved Evangelical template. It leaves me feeling hollow.
In fact, the phrase ‘I only feel alone around other people’ comes to mind.
Now I’m not demanding every conversation be laced with gut-wrenching honesty. I get public personas, levels of relationship, restraint and maintaining a testimony. Who likes awkward, TMI moments? I don’t recommend vulnerability to total strangers. As Annie Leibowitz said – “Spilling your guts is about as attractive as it sounds.”
I just have this sense there’s a lot of pretending going on. Spiritual smokescreen hiding real people. I mean, if it’s my soul God is really after, (or my ‘heart’ i.e. the seat of my being) then my faith is inherently to be more than skin deep. I guess I’m thirsting for authenticity rather than acting.
The verse that keeps ringing in my head is 1 Jn. 1:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. Seems to me God isn’t after perfection as honesty. It’s transparency with Him, ourselves and each other that brings genuine relationship, forgiveness, and transformation. It’s foundational to redemption. In fact, repentance being the first step to salvation, I don’t think redemption is possible without it.
This I am Second video testimony is an extreme example of what I’m talking about. It’s a tough watch, but worth your time, IMO.
End of the day, I’m encouraged to know God doesn’t expect perfection but honesty. That grace is given to the humble, and the promise of genuine relationship is given not on my ability to act spiritual, but by granting God’s Spirit access to my inmost being. Like the Publican in the Temple in Luke 18:9-14, God honors and responds to genuineness.
6 Replies to “surrogates, saints, and sinners…”
PRAISE GOD BROTHER!………………………Just kidding my friend.
Sadly many of the churches of Jesus Christ in America are beset by a wave of apathy & are really just going through the motions. God’s light has been shut out.
Many of our brothers & sisters in Christ put on their game face on Sundays & come & be happy at church. But Monday – Saturday they are living like the rest of the world.
Its hard to show the light of the Lord to the world when you spend 6 days a week in the dark.
Our church was going through the same sort of thing 2 years ago. But interaction with a church that was on fire for God really changed our church. The game face people drifted out & were replaced by people who really want to pursue God.
The Lord loves to be pursued b his children. Alas too many of churches have traded the Holy Spirit for mans plans & have become more like social clubs.
But let not your heart be troubled….God has a plan.
Jeremiah 29:11-13 says
11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
Jer 29 was one of the first verses God spoke to me as a new Christian all those years ago.
I suspect much of this has to do with personal perspectives and transitioning to a new season in my life.
One thing I’ve learned in trials is to keep walking and to keep bringing my heart before God. That way, I get through intact.
Your post mirrors sentiments I had a couple of years ago, before i started walking through the doors of churches that were actually ‘alive’ for Christ. It’s sad, but many think that going to church and being a Christian are duties rather than privileges. I’ll admit that I’m the first to be very closed off from people when I first meet them because I am a natural introvert. That being said, when I do get to know someone, I do my best to ‘put my cards on the table’ and be upfront and honest about my life and my intentions. And out of that honesty, I have made some incredible friendships that have completely changed my life.
And Surrogates was actually a decent movie when i watched in the theater many years ago. Worth at least seeing once. Great job tying it to your topic of ‘masked’ Christians.
I hear you. I’ve got my own introvert/outsider issues. Always have, in fact, and it probably doesn’t help matters.
I tend to save my theater trips for those once or twice annual big screen epics, say a summer action blockbuster and Christmas-time Hobbit.
Otherwise, Amazon rentals are my thing.
I haven’t seen Surrogates, but found it interesting that you related it to a personal experience at church. Thank you for discussing it and making us as Christians realize how we are often perceived. Fortunately for us all, God knows our hearts!
I’ve always been confounded by that saying.
I honestly believe sincerity is an over-rated virtue, and while I recognize God clearly discerns our motives and intentions – no matter how clumsy the expression – that same discernment can be decidedly ‘unfortunate’, if the heart is in a wrong place. Even with a ‘correct; action. (See ‘Pharisees’)
The problem here is
A. Christians have a say in how they -and their faith – is perceived, and
B. the spiritual veneer suggests there is something different hidden underneath.
The long-term issue is character not cosmetics. I’d rather deal with a genuine non-believer than a plaster saint. At least I know what I’m getting and can have an honest conversation.
Thanks for stopping by.