I’ve stood on a stage many times, speaking to thousands of people over the years. I can’t say that I’ve ever been phased by it, I’m a quiet man but put a microphone in my hand and I can talk for Wales. Nerves don’t affect me. I’ve always spoken as me, as part of my job. Ask me to speak as someone else, in other words act out a part, and I couldn’t do it. I’m what some would call a drama phobe. There’s something about pretending to be something I’m not that freaks me out. I just want to be me.
I think perhaps that I may be in a minority. I suspect lots of people would enjoy acting as someone else in order to escape their own reality. Take a look at social media. It’s so obvious that people create a false persona where their lives are always fun and they’re always happy. They have lots of friends and are the centre of attention. Celebrities and social media influencers (whatever they are) present perfect pictures of themselves that may have no resemblance to their real lives. They can’t be perfect can they? We can’t all have perfect lives while the nation has a mental health crisis on its hands.
What is it about the world we live in that makes people want to escape its reality? Why do people pretend to be what they’re not? Why can’t we all be happy as we are? I guess one reason is that we don’t like who we are. We take an inward look and what’s there horrifies us. We see memories of painful events, unhappy relationships, mistakes made, people we’ve hurt, people who have hurt us, and it all leaves us feeling empty, dissatisfied, unhappy, dirty. The pain and the unhappiness is buried deep and we can’t remove it, so when we can we pretend to be what we’re not. We become what we’re not, hoping we can escape our reality, but we can’t. We know that but still we continue, carrying on with lives that bring no peace or happiness. That’s one of the sad truths of our existence. We’ve done things that make us feel dirty and nothing we do can shift the dirt and it’s associated guilt.
That’s where Jesus can help. Here is someone who never had to pretend. His life was perfect, no dirt, or guilt or shame, nothing to make him want to be someone else. His life was satisfying and fulfilling, even though it took him to a cross. Guess what? He loves you just as you are. Nothing can be hidden from him so he knows just what you’re like, and he loves you that way. It’s not love from a distance either, it’s a close up love. His home was in heaven but he came to earth to get close to the human race, and then he died for us. His death is capable of removing all the things you hate about yourself, and the sin that is the root cause of your troubles.
In the Bible it says about Jesus, “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us.” (1) Jesus had never sinned, not once in the 33 years he lived before he was crucified. The Bible says he “has been tempted in every way, just as we are —yet he did not sin.” (2) He had no sin, he had never sinned, but when he died he was made to be sin as our sins were placed on him. Sin is the thing God hates above all else, knowing what it has done to the human race. He hates it so much he won’t have it in his presence, which means we can’t be in his presence while we carry our own sin and it’s associated guilt. Jesus took our sin, its guilt and its punishment, and he became the thing God hates the most. Even though Jesus is the Son of God, loved by him, there was a time upon the cross when our sins were put upon Jesus and God turned away from him. He had to because of our sins. This was the time when Jesus cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (3) He was forsaken because of sin, mine and yours.
The most wonderful news is that Jesus chose this death because he wants our sins to be removed. If we accept the truth that Jesus died for us, and commit our lives to him, we will receive God’s forgiveness and be included among those whose punishment was taken by Jesus. If not, we have to take the punishment. The Bible says, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (4) There’s no need to pretend, you can be you and enjoy your life as it is, but you need Jesus to be right at the heart of it.
- 2 Corinthians 5:21
- Hebrews 4:15
- Matthew 27:46
- Romans 8:1