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The Night God

The ancient Greeks loved the theater. Their
writers created elaborate stories — both comedies
and tragedies — in the form of plays to be acted out
in their amphitheaters.

Greek actors, skilled at playing many roles,
switched from one character to another by going
backstage and changing masks. When an actor
returned to the stage with a new face he became
another person.

The Greek word for one of these people of many
faces was hypokrite — or hypocrite in English. It
has come to mean one who acts out a part or
pretends to be what he is not.

In the New Testament Jesus chided the religious
elite of His day, the scribes and Pharisees who
were more concerned with the traditions and
ceremonies of serving God than the meaning and
purpose of God’s laws. He said, Well hath Esaias
prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written,
This people honoureth me with their lips, but
their heart is far from me
(Mark 7:6).

Today so many who call themselves Christians
have an extensive collection of masks they can put
on and take off at will. They wear many different
faces, depending on where they are, who they are
with, and what they are doing.

Don’t misunderstand me — I’m not talking
about being able to perform different functions as
a person. A man may be a husband, father,
businessman, sports enthusiast, handyman, scholar,
and spiritual leader. A woman may be a wife,
mother, counselor, chef, chauffeur, seamstress,
designer, musician, gardener, etc. But in both
examples, the individual can remain the same
person while performing various functions.

Hypocrisy comes from attempting to be
completely different people according to the
environment or situation in which we find ourselves. And
all of us are tempted to try our hand at role playing
at one time or another.

The real you!

Do you ever find yourself acting one way at
church, another way at home, and still another at
work? Have you ever considered allowing your
values, appearance, vocabulary, personality, and
behavior to change dramatically from Sunday to
Monday… from your work place to your home…
from public to private life?

Are there times when you wonder who — and
what — is the real you?

Several years ago, Dr. Van Impe and I knew of a
young evangelist who had enormous ability. He
was handsome, knowledgeable, and articulate.
He spoke with eloquence, diction, and power. It
seemed certain that he would become one of the
most effective ministers in America.

I remember especially his strong messages
about the evils of alcohol and how the devil was
using strong drink to cause untold misery and
destroy countless lives.

Then, in the prime of his life, this young
minister suddenly died! In an instant he was gone.
Later, it was revealed that he had fought an
unending personal battle with liquor. Many nights
after his evangelistic services he drank himself
into an alcoholic stupor. How tragic that he
proclaimed the life-changing, transforming power of
Christ’s salvation to multiplied thousands, yet
never accepted God’s deliverance from the satanic
bondage that enslaved him.

Mixed signals

One troubled young man in California came to
as after a service and said, “I don’t understand my
dad’s religion. He’s a deacon in the church and he
seems so pious and so holy. But when he comes
home, he yells and swears at my mother.” This
boy was troubled at the mixed signals he was
receiving from his father’s behavior. He realized
that something was dreadfully wrong.

The Apostle James asked, Doth a fountain
send forth at the same place sweet water and
bitter? Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive
berries?
(James 3:11,12).

Of course not! Then why is it that we often see
entire casts of characters wrapped up in a single
individual? Sometimes we’re not quite sure
which face they will show us next. How can this
happen?

I believe it may be explained by noting that man
loses the awareness of his true identity when he
loses sight of who God is! When man — either
deliberately or accidentally — loses sight of God
the Father, he soon loses his way in the resulting
darkness.

The Bible tells how in the beginning the Lord
God himself came into the Garden of Eden to have
fellowship with Adam and Eve. He knew them
personally… and they knew Him.

Then they sinned by disobeying God.
Immediately Adam and Eve changed the way they acted —
they hid themselves from the presence of the
Lord. Ultimately they were driven out of the
Garden… and out of fellowship with God.

From that day on, the human family began to
lose sight of God — to forget who He was and what
He was really like.

Putting a mask on God

As the years and centuries went by, man created
a picture of God that was so distorted and
mistaken that very few really understood His divine
plan and His tender lovingkindness.

In the eloquent words of Paul the apostle: When
they knew God, they glorified him not as God,
neither were thankful; but became vain in their
imaginations, and their foolish heart was
darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they
became fools, and changed the glory of the
uncorruptible God into an image made like to
corruptible man
(Romans 1:21-23).

I like the way The Living Bible expresses verse
21 — And after a while they began to think up
silly ideas of what God was like and what He
wanted them to do.

In effect, man created a mask — grotesque and
corrupt — and used it to cover the face of God. And
darkness again covered the earth and the lives of
men.

It was then that God chose to reveal himself
afresh and anew to all mankind. Paul Scherer
described “the night of all nights when God came
down ‘the stairs of heaven with a child in his
arms.'”

Throwing aside the crude mask that man had
placed upon Him, the Father sent His Son, Jesus,
from heaven to earth — to once again walk among
men and show them who God is and what He is
like. So Jesus came, ministering to the poor,
healing the sick, pouring out boundless love to all
men. “Do you see me and my works?” He asked.
“Then understand that this is the nature of God.
For when you see me, you see the Father.”

Identify with God

Oh, my friend, the joy of seeing the Father… of
having fellowship with God! This is the secret of
true self-discovery. For as you find out who God is
and your eternal relationship with Him through
Christ, you will suddenly see yourself in a new
light.

And then, you can strip away all your masks
and faces and go forth in your new identity — as a
child of God.

Join me in giving thanks for that first
Christmas, when God took off His mask and
revealed himself to us again. If you have not yet
received Him, I urge you now to — Turn your eyes
upon Jesus, Look full in His wonderful face; And
the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the
light of His glory and grace.

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