Every single one of us learns to play "the game." We can play this game without realizing it. We have been taught how to play this game seemingly without ever being told the rules. Yet, when we try to play this game, it seems the harder we try the more we feel like we are losing the game.
You know what game I am referring to? It's the great masquerade of life. It's that unknowing game we play with others where we try to make our lives look one way when in reality it is another. It's the front we put on to help everyone to think that we are perfect and have figured out the secrets to life and happiness. It's the image we display to the world to project that we are strong and capable men and women at everything in life.
With the rise of texting, social media, and video apps, how we curate our image has gone to a level we never dreamed of. It has changed how we communicate with one another, how we participate within the community, and share our ideas and perspectives. In many ways, this Great Masquerade is killing us slowly from the inside. We are losing what it means to be human.
Sadly, do you know who some of the "best" (or worst depending on how you look at it) players of this game are? Christians. The people who claim to follow Jesus. As Christians, we have tried to integrate our faith with the game by showing up to church on Sunday mornings, singing the songs, getting involved "just enough," and trying to love our community on our terms all while curating this image that we are "good Christians". While many of these actions are good actions, there is a major problem with building our faith this way: We don't need God to do any of this. When our faith becomes more about keeping up our image as a Christian, we fall right back into a works based theology that tells us if we do the right things or play the game correctly then God will love us more and others will like us better.
Instead, Christians have been called to something much better and much different. The Gospel of Jesus is built on the fact that we as human beings are in desperate need of grace and salvation from God. Paul says it this way to the church in Ephesus, "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast." (Ephesians 2:8-9) Our salvation is a gift. The grace we experience in Jesus is a gift. No facade required. No game that needs winning. It's gift that is given out of the deep love that God has for us.
As Christians then, we don't have to fight for our image. We don't have to fight to have all the answers. We don't have to appear "put together" all the time. We don't even have to be right all the time. We don't have to play the game by the world's rules because Jesus changed the game entirely.
When we come to faith in Jesus, and believe in what he did for us in his life, death, burial, and resurrection we find that it is not a mask of strength or goodness that Jesus requires. It is a heart of humility and surrender. He wants us to come to him broken having realized our desperate need for him.
If we come to him like this what we will find is that the joy that comes from a deeper relationship with Jesus and the peace that comes from knowing he loved us, and died for us while we were unlovable is far deeper than any satisfaction would ever have from winning "the game."