Back in November 2010 we had a family service on value and worth during which Stephen did a game called ‘Burgin’s Real Deal’, based on a popular TV programme. Prior to that, just after moving into the building on Market Street, I wrote about authentic living. The topic of being real or genuine or authentic is one that I constantly come back to. It’s so easy to ‘fake it’ in life, pretending that everything-in-the-garden-is-lovely (even if it isn’t) or just hiding behind defensive walls because we are worried that if others see the ‘real deal’ (what we are really like deep-down), they will shun us. As Kutless sing:

“It’s always easier to hide behind that
Camouflage that keeps our hearts so guarded.” (‘Identity’, Kutless)

Some of us even think that God would spurn us if He could really see our hearts and it takes a lot of persuading that actually, God does see our hearts, knows us inside out and still loves us!

“You see the depths of my heart and You love me the same.
You are amazing, God!” (‘Indescribable’, Laura Storey, Chris Tomlin, Jesse Reeves)

It’s always good when you find a slogan that sums up what you think. A picture may paint a thousand words, but to be honest, it’s better for our faulty memories if we can reduce that number somewhat to summarise what we believe! So here is the slogan I discovered this week. It’s in Latin, so it’s nice and pithy:

“Esse quam videri.”

Now I appreciate that not everyone understands Latin. The translation is almost as good as the original:

“To be rather than to seem to be.”

God doesn’t need us to hide behind camouflage or defences or to build walls to keep people away from seeing the real us. He encourages us to be true to who He has made us to be. He’s not the one who believes in ‘happy plastic people under shiny plastic steeples’ (‘Stained Glass Masquerade’, Casting Crowns). We don’t need ‘walls around our weakness and smiles to hide our pain.’ Christianity isn’t about pretending. It’s about reality: the reality of a God who loves people unconditionally, as they are, even when they are flawed and sinful and hurting and desperate, and the reality of becoming more like Christ on a daily basis. ‘This becoming is harder than it seems’ (‘Place In This World’, Michael W. Smith), but becoming is not about seeming. It’s about what really is.

“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears,we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” (1 John 3:1-2)

Children of God, that is our identity. We are loved, forgiven, accepted and washed clean. We don’t have to ‘seem to be.’ Instead, we can just be.