You woke up this morning only to find yourself on a stage with the biggest projector screen behind you. Your life is being played on said screen. You look around to see that you’re not the only one in the room. Rather, there’s a full audience watching your biopic. Your “true” self, is being revealed. Every thought, and action both seen in public and unseen in private is being played for said audience. Would you be ashamed? Would you hide in shame seeing the inner parts of your life being exposed? Would your true self contradict what your daily strides have conveyed. I can tell you — I would be ashamed. There are parts of my heart and my character that I am not quite proud of.
We have been living in deception. We’ve chosen the route of fake it till we make it. Our Christian walk is all a hoax. We’ve been preaching a certain narrative, while living the exact opposite of what we preach. We’ve tricked those around us to believe we are the “it” Christian, when in actuality we are crumbling inside. I call this, artifice strides.
What’s “artifice”? Defined, it is a cleaver more often underhanded means to achieve an end. Simply put, it’s a gimmick or bluff. I’ve bluffed Christianity. I’ve pretended in order to convince those around me that I’ve mastered it. Have you done that before? There’s a difference between struggling with a sin and actively working towards growth versus actively living in said sin and pretending nothing is wrong. Artifice strides creatively manipulates those around you that your walk with Christ is subpar. Artifice strides are works based when the heart is quite messed up.
Paul, the writer of many of the New Testament books, writes in 1 Corinthians 13 some biblical truths on artifice strides that I believe properly illustrates how many of us have chosen to live out Christianity. He writes,
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
The idea here is that love conquers the sin nature within us. Love is found in salvation and atonement, however it doesn’t stop there. It continues after we’ve accepted Jesus in our hearts. Salvation is not a one moment experience. It’s a daily, moment by moment, spiritual growth. In Christianity, we should grow patience and kindness. Envy, boasting and pride is replaced with humility and genuine glee for the victories of others. In growth, we learn to honor those around us, and seek truth versus delighting in evil. Paul states that when love through salvation grows within us, we protect, trust, hope and persevere in our daily strides.
We’d like to believe we are not pretentious in our approach to Christianity, but the truth of the matter is, many of us are. Our intentions are not always pure. We pray with hate heavy in our hearts. We sing praises with no faith within us. We share the word of God through mere memorization and not a love for God’s word. We quote scriptures as a means to judge those whom we disagree with because of their open sin nature, yet we are no different in the secret places as we’re actively living in sin. We’ve cleverly developed a means to say we’ve done Christianity well, when in actuality it is all a hoax. We hide behind the title Christianity when it’s merely a means to gain status and liking among believers or present oneself as perfect.
Christianity is not a destination. When we view Christianity as a destination we take artifice strides. All our doing for Christ is done with the intent to “appear” as a Christian. Faith, integrity and authenticity is absent in terminal Christianity. Destination Christianity knows only to do and has not grasped onto the truth of transformation. True Christianity is perpetual. It doesn’t end with the call to salvation. It’s continuous in unwavering growth.
The question I want to propose to you is, are you taking artifice or honoring strides? Are you authentically walking? Are you living what you preach or have you bluffed the Christian walk? Is at all a hoax? If it is, here’s something you need to know, you cannot make a lie, truth. Ultimately, the lie you’re hoping to appear as truth air its’ ugly face. Until we begin to be honest with ourselves and open up about the sins we struggle with, then will we be able to find freedom. Truth sets us free and in freedom we can walk honorably. Truth is you admitting and acknowledging your sins. From that point, Gods word can transform. God cannot move unless we create space in our hearts for Him to move. Too often we’ve welcomed artifice strides in order to hide behind perfection and not admit our sin nature.
I want to challenge you to be honest about your faith walk. If you’re making artifice strides, someone will eventually call your bluff. We are not promised tomorrow to live honorably. We have a choice and ultimately it’s choosing between a lie or truth.
What are you going to do?