All of my life, I have been fighting the battle of perception. You know, my always shifting self-perception, other peoples’ perception of me, and the perennial, “Is it really true that God sees me as beloved?” (Romans 9:25, 1 Corinthians 4:14, etc…)
This issue of perception is exponentially multiplied once you step up onto a stage. The “church stage” or the everyone-is-watching “stage” of social media are similar, both are a superficial level of exposure, and both carry the ever-present danger of distorting yours and others perception of “you.”
Each one of us has a distorted perception of “me,” whether consciously or unconsciously. (A recent, heartbreaking example) With superficial relationships, from stage-to-audience or keyboard-to-“friends” or “followers,” it is easier to hide, to pretend, and this isn’t just others perceptions of you, it destroys even our own self-perception. Yet another example of why the local church is essential.
Pro-tip: take Kierkegaard’s advice: as you read the gospels, identify yourself with the Pharisees… we are rarely, and only by the grace of God, the good guy.
But do not despair.
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.
In this time between the times, our lives are an ever-shifting, always-challenging identity crisis.
Let everything else fade away: you are hidden with Christ in God.
For Further (Essential) Reflection
I cannot commend to you highly enough Tim Keller’s book, The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness. You can read (and re-read!) this 48 page book in 45 minutes. I’ve read it a half dozen times or more and each time it refreshes my soul.
Let me finish with a brief summary and a quotation:
- Other peoples’ perception of you is not trustworthy
- Your own perception of yourself is not trustworthy
- Christ calls you his beloved child
- Christ’s perception of you is always trustworthy
This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful. But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me.
1 Corinthians 4:1-4
Today, avoid the temptation to hide yourself behind your social media identity or behind your title or position. These similar species of self-deception/self-perception are both superficial, ever-changing, and brutal masters.