Christ is risen!
I come from a generation that was suspicious of tattoos! And the generation before me, forget about it! My grandfather, a lifelong police officer, always said that tattoos were degrading to a man. Wow, some pretty strong words, especially in light of today’s generation that consider “body art” a form of expression and even something to be celebrated. Times do change.
Now, this isn’t about tattoos; whether they are “good” or “bad” or any such thing. But it is about the truth that it’s hard to hide who you really are even when you try really hard! It just seems that we humans can’t keep up a facade of our preferred image to the world all the time. You’re going to get tired; you’re going to be caught off guard; you’re going to slip up, and the “real” you is going to be displayed! Oh NO!
Look at our Gospel Lesson this morning from John 5:30-47; 6:1-2:
The Lord said to the Jews who came to him: “I can do nothing on my own authority; as I hear, I judge; and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of the Father who sent me. If I bear witness to myself, my testimony is not true; there is another who bears witness to me, and I know that the testimony which he bears to me is true. You sent to John, and he has borne witness to the truth. Not that the testimony which I receive is from man; but I say this that you may be saved. He was a burning and shining lamp, and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light. But the testimony which I have is greater than that of John; for the works which the Father has granted me to accomplish, these very works which I am doing, bear me witness that the Father has sent me. And the Father who sent me has himself borne witness to me. His voice you have never heard, his form you have never seen; and you do not have his word abiding in you, for you do not believe him whom he has sent. You search the scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness to me; yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. I do not receive glory from men. But I know that you have not the love of God within you. I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not receive me; if another comes in his own name, him you will receive. How can you believe, who receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God? Do not think that I shall accuse you to the Father; it is Moses who accuses you, on whom you set your hope. If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote of me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?”
After this Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, which is the Sea of Tiberias. And a multitude followed him, because they saw the signs which he did on those who were diseased.
Jesus Christ simply didn’t hide Who He was. He lived His life so transparently that it really disturbed those around Him who seemed to be working overtime to hide who they really were! His authenticity was stark, and uncomfortable, a contrast to the fictional selves of those around Him. And His words confronted those “fictional” people with their own duplicity in living. They expected a Messiah that would confirm them in their specialness and here is the very Son of God revealing their true selves instead! Very uncomfortable!
So much so that the Lord, in His love for them and in His loving attempt to wake them up, actually says “But I know that you have not the love of God within you.” How does He know? Because He sees the real selves of those around Him and He knows the image they are trying so hard to project isn’t the real them! And it is precisely this distance between fiction and reality that measures the spiritual sickness of us all.
Today, as we live in the Light of the Resurrection, where are you wasting energy and talent trying to hide who you really are? Are you even aware of the fiction in your own life? Why not abandon the facade of the image you wish to project for the Image of God you are meant to become? After all, don’t you want to be Orthodox on Purpose?
P.S. O Lord of Mercies, I remain a stranger to myself in so many ways. I’ve spent so much time hiding from myself that it’s become “normal” and routine. I don’t know if I can escape this prison of self-delusion. But I am learning that if I will focus on You, Your grace loosens the power of delusion over me, and, little by little, I begin to know myself BECAUSE I am getting to know You. You are my freedom, O Lord. You are my salvation. You are who I am to become, by grace. Forgive me when I forget this and go back into hiding. Strengthen me by the beauty of Your Church in Her liturgies, hymns, and prayers as these eternally beautiful weapons of spiritual warfare enable me to become like You! Amen