With Halloween just past, you may think I’m commenting on the usual dust-up about which costumes are acceptable in this PC age, but that’s not what is on my mind. I’ve been revisiting C.S. Lewis’s Screwtape Letters, that Christian classic written from the perspective of one of Satan’s minions (not the cute kind!), and came across this line, “All mortals tend to turn into the thing they are pretending to be.”
The first time I read this, I accepted it at face value, but upon further thought, I decided it is only true some of the time.
We’ve all seen people (politicians come to mind here) pretending to be honest and upright in order to impress an audience, while remaining dishonest and self-serving.
I think it is one’s motives that determine the effect pretense has on character.
Christians are sometimes advised to act “as if” we feel love or forgiveness toward someone when we have difficulty calling up the genuine emotions, because the action can be the precursor of the feelings.
If you pretend to be better than you are, simply to fool and manipulate others for your own gain, it is like slipping into a Halloween costume; you remain untouched. But walking a higher road in order to help others and in hopes of eventually becoming what you are emulating can really change you. Rather than a mask to hide behind, we should be putting on the character of Christ, allowing it to mold us into His image.
I want to be authentic in all my relationships, while always striving to overlay my flawed character with generous, moral, and courageous actions for the benefit of others and the glory of God. Don’t you?