These are some notes taken from a book I’m working on called The Way of a Disciple:
If there’s anything obvious about humanity, it’s that people are obsessed with projecting an identity. And it’s true in church, only more annoying. I do it and you do it. To claim we don’t is to claim the fall of man hasn’t affected us.
I don’t believe the aim of the devil is to get us to masturbate, as is taught in so many churches, but rather to get us to project a righteous identity. Why would satan want us to project a righteous identity? Because projecting a righteous identity teaches people they will be safe as long as they are righteous which is a lie. They are not safe. Christ is safe and if we are one with Him than we are safe, too. Our own righteousness is nothing.
What this means for us is that God, at heavens gate, is not going to look around to ask your church friends wether or not He should let you in. Religious leadership may want you to believe this, because, for the worse, they want to have control over you, and perhaps for the better though of no help, they want to trick you into being a good person, but either way their agency is false and has no power. If God looks at you and finds Christ, you’re fine, no matter what your friends say about you.
I only say this because there isn’t anything more smelly in the brain than a person dropping statements about how pious they are in order to gain the approval of his/her Christian community. If the Hindu thinks little statues are Jesus, and the environmentalists think trees are Jesus, then the modern Christian thinks his friends are Jesus. I love my friends but none of them are Jesus. And to sit and listen to a pastor beg his congregation to think he’s holy is a sad expression of a false gospel. This is not leadership, this is a kind of reverse idol worship, the leader tricking his congregation into speaking to God on his behalf so God will accept him.
What’s sad about projecting an identity is our obsession with the process keeps us from discovering who we really are. We like certain things because we will be approved of if we do, not because something about how we were created responds to them. Who knows who I am, what I like, what moves me, because I have been too busy kissing up to ask myself those questions. Because I am busy projecting an identity, I am less moved by the beauty of a tree than I am by the latest fad of which I can associate my identity. If I were really cool, as we commonly define cool (a projection that we don’t care what other people think) I’d go about my day in coaches shorts I bought at Target, socks that don’t match, the most comfortable nurses shoes I could afford, and stand in parks laughing at how funny squirrels look when they crack nuts. Now that is freedom, both for our souls and for our family jewels, which are far more comfortable in coaches shorts.
The next time you want to impress your friends with your religious devotion, count it as false religion. And the next time you try to impress God with your worship, count it as heresy. He isn’t impressed. If you’re grateful for what He’s done, thank Him and try to help others. That’s all He asks. And even that is not required, or else grace would be conditional.
If you and I could really believe this, I think we’d be free.
P.S. Projecting an identity that you are not projecting an identity is the same trap. A true security in Christ involves no projection at all, just honest living and a grateful heart. And nurses shoes.