I have often wondered, as I observe a particular character in a movie or television series, what that person is like in real life. Are they like the role they are playing? It might be true, since actors and actresses are chosen who will be a good fit for a particular role. I believe it is called “type casting.”
Actually, a lot of people in everyday life are also probably “role playing,” as they pretend outwardly to be someone they really aren’t inside. They follow the script they’re supposed to follow, act the way they’re supposed to act, and often give such a good “performance” that they almost convince themselves they are someone other than who they really are. I have witnessed this quite often in couples who are dating and are “on their best behavior,” hoping to convince the other person to marry them. They get married and shortly thereafter have serious problems because they are finally getting to know the real person and it isn’t who they thought they were marrying.
As difficult and problem causing as that experience is for a newly married couple, that gap between playing the role and experiencing the reality becomes horribly expensive when you are playing the role of being a Christian when you really don’t have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. Years ago, when we were living in Oregon and attending Montavilla Baptist Church, one of the pastors we had came from a Christian home where he went through all the motions of being a Christian, regularly attending church services with his family, even teaching children’s Sunday school and ultimately becoming Sunday school superintendent. Then he finally “got saved”! It was hard for him to admit to others that he didn’t really know the Lord, because for years he had played the role so well that he had everyone fooled.
Many years ago (about 1954), in our hometown of Libby, Montana, there was a “Youth For Christ” rally which was held for a week. Many folks got saved and one group of them began meeting together for Bible study in a home and as the group grew, they contacted Clarence Kutz, who was at the time a pastor in Wilsall, Montana, to come be their pastor. That was the beginning of “Faith Bible Church” where my family ended up attending when we moved to Libby in 1958, It was there I met the pastor’s daughter, Kathy, who in 1967 became my wife. During that YFC rally, there were also two local pastors of mainline denominational churches who became Christians! They had been “role players,” but up until then had yet to personally ask Jesus Christ into their lives. They had religion with all its ritual but did not have a relationship with Jesus.
I’m reminded of an NBC action drama television series from 1996-2000 called “The Pretender.” The main character, Jarod, was a genius imposter assuming numerous professional identities (e.g., doctor, lawyer, soldier, etc.) in his quest to discover his origins and at the same time stay one step ahead of those trying to catch him. He was very convincing in his role. There are many playing the role of “Christian” who are also very convincing to those around them, as they follow the script and say the right words and do the right things. Many of them are members of churches. Some of them might be teaching Sunday school or even be pastoring. I recall a story of a pastor who “got saved” while preaching a salvation message, as God the Holy Spirit convicted his heart from the Scriptures he was reading!
That’s why the Apostle Paul, in writing to the church at Corinth, included this challenge: “Test yourselves to see if you are (really) in the faith. Examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test?” (II Cor. 13:5). Christ Jesus isn’t, in Paul’s words, “in you” unless there’s been a time in your life when you’ve consciously opened the door of your life to Him and invited Him in to run your life from then on. When you know the right words, go to the right meetings, and even believe the right things, it’s still easy to miss this one life-or-death step. You may even have prayed a “sinner’s prayer” at church or with a friend, but if it didn’t come from a heart of conviction, it was just words. The Apostle Paul also wrote: “That if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved; for with the heart man believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation (in others, as you share your ‘Jesus story’)” (Ro. 10:9,10).
Maybe someone who is reading this has been “role playing,” pretending to be a Christian, but without a real relationship with Christ. Could it be that you have missed that vital, intentional step of passing from death to life? Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes on Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life” (Jn. 5:24). I encourage you to do as Paul suggested to the Corinthians, “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith…” If you were to die tonight and God were to ask you, “Why should I let you into My heaven? What would you tell Him? All your “role playing” of doing and saying the right things won’t get you into heaven. You must have Jesus in your life. John wrote: “…God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the eternal life, he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life” (I Jn. 5:11,12).
It takes courage and honesty to finally admit that you have been role playing, that you are a mere “professor,” but not a “possessor” of Jesus Christ, but the cost of continuing to just play the role is way too high to pay. If you have any doubt of the reality of your relationship with God through Jesus Christ, why not make sure right now, as Jesus is speaking to your heart, telling Jesus, “I know that I am a sinner deserving of judgment, but I believe (in my heart) that you died for my sins, and I believe that You are my ONLY hope, so come into my life and take control. Beginning right now, I’m totally Yours. Thank You for coming in and that You will never leave me or forsake me. Amen!”
P.S. If you prayed to receive Christ and/or to gain assurance of your salvation, how about letting me know (and let others who would be concerned know as well!)