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Just A Thought or Two: Real

REAL

Why is being real such a big deal?

MarkFenstermacher_Color_2015_wOne of the things that people seem to be looking for, as they consider who to vote for in the presidential primaries, is genuineness. (Wouldn’t it be wonderful if that genuineness was accompanied by compassion, self-restraint, humility, and statesman-like speech?)

It’s interesting that veteran, secular reporters talk so much about whether a candidate is real or not. Are they who they appear to be or is their public persona an act? Do their words and actions match up together?

Tough reporters point out the person who advocates for public schools and has their own children enrolled in charter schools. People notice the politician who rails against imports taking away good jobs, and then drives a foreign-made luxury automobile home and parks it in her garage.

Pretend Lobster & People

lobster-plateCBS news in a recent report found that more than a third (35%) of lobster dishes from 28 different local and national restaurants contained cheap fish substitutes. One restaurant was serving a lobster dish with no lobster in it at all. Since I never order lobster this story won’t keep me awake at night but it is unsettling when you order one thing and get another.

Even two-thousand years after the fact, it is stunning to see how the crowds gathered around Jesus. People would find him in the wilderness. One of the reasons people were drawn to Jesus, I believe, is that he was real. The Galilean was the same on the inside as he was on the outside. His actions matched his words.

One of the reasons Jesus was outraged at the religious leaders, the experts who knew the scriptures and all the theological terms, was that they weren’t real (see Matthew 23). In fact, he called them “blind guides” and said they were like “whitewashed tombs” (clean on the outside and corrupt on the inside). Whew…so much for the image of Jesus as a mild, soft-spoken, never-trouble-the-waters philosopher!

Pretending is Missing Out

The thing about pretending is that we miss out on life. Instead of something real, life becomes a game of pretend. It’s like some of those dessert carts in restaurants where the goodies aren’t real chocolate or pastries but plastic “pretend goodies.”

Talk to someone who has finally faced an addiction and moved through recovery after years of pretending there wasn’t an issue…a problem. They talk about what it is like to live a life that is real…genuine…true. You’d almost think they have been born a second time. Life is that new!

A Step Towards Real

This weekend is the First Sunday of Lent. We’ll be looking at the 40 days Jesus spends in the wilderness (Luke 4:1-13). Out there, on his own with God, Jesus makes some decisions about who he is and what his life will be about. Perhaps Lent is God’s invitation for you to step out into a wilderness, away from a packed life where you hardly have time to think or breathe, and let the Spirit of God do some work in your head, heart and life.

getting real wide 450We’re beginning a new series of messages this week titled “Getting Real.” Invite a friend to join you as we explore the steps God calls us to take towards real.

It’s never too late, you know. It’s never too late to be real.

Grace,

Mark

First Methodist