Real People, Not Actors

More and more I see the words above particularly in commercials for automobiles. I know we are being told that since these are people are not playing a part, we can believe that what is being said is an accurate expression of how they feel.

I had to smile the first time I saw these words. Then I felt sort of sorry for actors because of the message given about people who act for a living. And then I began to feel uncomfortable as I searched through my interactions with others. Is what others see in me a real person or am I acting?

Interestingly, as I thought about this, something that the Apostle Paul wrote came to me as a defense. In 1 Corinthians 9:22 he said “I have become all things to all people.” So, I figured, sometimes I need to act different depending to whom I am speaking. I mean, shouldn’t I want people to like me? Isn’t it better to be on a good side of someone rather than have them dislike me?

Of course, even as I was trying to convince myself of that reasoning, I knew I was just trying to make an excuse for when I act in some way to get someone to like me. I was aware of the context of the passage where Paul says, “I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.” In an effort to introduce others to know Jesus as their Savior, Paul would not use his freedom in such a way as to offend them.

While I try to get people to like me by how I act, Paul, on the other hand, would not eat certain foods because he knew it would offend them. And if they were offended by what he did, Paul had less of a chance to share the Gospel with them. At times, I see myself putting effort into trying to make people remember what a good guy I am. Paul wrote that he is all things to all people  “for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings” (v. 23).

I really like writing this blog–except when I run into someone who can be pretty pitiful at times and that person turns out to be me. I understand no one acts exactly the same with all people. Relationships, circumstances and past history all go into how we act with others.

However, when I find myself relating in ways to be liked or to please others on a regular basis, I am playing a role to get something for myself. In reality, I am using others to be accepted or liked or relationships I feel I need. Those are not good relationships. And to make it worse, my acting usually results in hurting those around me who really care.

I find that the tendency to act in a certain way to get what I want is a struggle which seems more difficult to conquer than my alcoholism. Maybe it is the lack of immediate consequences. Maybe it is because many people like the way I act. (If they knew my motivation of course that would change.) Most likely my struggle comes from what I know needs to be done to more consistently become a “real” person.

In Galatians 2 I read, ” I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (v. 20). Just like with the active drinking, I need to come to the cross and confess my sinful desire to get my own way or try to get people to look up to me.

Of course that means some intense reprogramming for me. I need to honor others and their needs above my own. Which takes me even deeper into what I say is my faith. Can I trust that God will take care of my reputation? Is God’s love enough for me without approval from those around me? Do I know that the only thing of true worth in me is not my ability to make friends or sense of humor, but the forgiveness I have through my Savior’s payment for all my sins?

I really do need to go to the cross and leave the “me” there and ask for forgiveness for nurturing it as part of what I thought I needed to live. I know there is forgiveness and love and all the power I will ever need to stop feeling I need to act and become more real. I know love, forgiveness and power are there because Jesus “loved me and gave himself for me.”

Knowing all that Jesus did for me, I shake my head at my attempts to make “John” the center of my life. How could my need to have people think I am such a “good” guy ever push the aside the priority of doing whatever I can to witness to others about Jesus’ love?

I will learn to look at relationships differently if I want a change to be more than just a passing whim. I can no longer be everything to all people to achieve “good guy-ness.” I think God gives me relationships for enjoyment and companionship. I can have my faith strengthened by Christian friends. And I can witness to those of my friends who do not believe.

But it all starts, as with any change I need to make in my life, at the cross. I know I will find what I need to make a “real” change. God gave me a wonderful personal example in my life of someone who lays her life at the cross asking God change what needs to be changed. That is my wife. She is such a positive example I have been so blind to see and from whom I have failed to learn. Again something I need to take to the cross.

This one was tough to write but usually for me the most needed. I will be back with more of my journey. Hope you stop by again.

I will wait you.

I have included a song that talks about changing yourself and thee cross. Listen if you choose, I found it helped me to keep focused on what needs to be a daily endeavor for me.

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