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.