Read Matthew 23:1–28
Jesus rebukes the scribes and Pharisees who make a show of godliness with their actions but allow ungodliness to control them from the inside. He calls them hypocrites and tells his followers not to be like them.
It was on the ski slopes in Australia that I experienced firsthand the consequences of trying to act like something I’m not. Although I’d never skied before, I accepted the invitation to be the chaplain on a youth ski trip. My friend, a professional skier, loaned me her very chic, top-of-the-line ski gear. She said, “Well, at least you’ll look the part!”
It was apparent on the slopes that first day that looking great on the outside and having all the best gear had no bearing on my performance as an actual skier. I didn’t have any of the knowledge, skill, experience, or strength on the inside that a real professional skier needs to have. In the end, looking the part counted for nothing.
The same holds true for us as Christians. We can look the part by having the best gear (our Bibles, our WWJD amulets, our fish bumper stickers); by refraining from certain behaviors such as smoking, drinking, or cussing; or by going to church and singing in the choir. We certainly can be perceived as a successful Christian by looking the right way, having the right “accessories,” and acting the right way. But if all of this does not stem from who we really are at our core, our faith is just a sham.
We are supposed to be transformed into the image of Jesus. If we reject the transforming grace of Christ, then we are hypocrites, just like the Pharisees. The fact is that Jesus despises hypocrisy. He wants authentic followers. Unfortunately for our flesh, which craves instant results, this transformation is not something that happens overnight. We have to be willing to work at it. We cannot allow ourselves to be sidetracked by the external quick-fix plan. Instead, we must be committed to strengthening our spiritual core, which is all about an internal work that brings about our transformation into the image of Christ.
Is it your goal to truly be like Christ? If so, you must focus on being a Christian rather than doing Christianity. The natural byproduct is that you will end up doing what Christians are supposed to do. This removes all the striving from your Christian journey because you no longer have to try to act like a Christian. You can simply be one.