This is a line from one of Fenelon’s letters. I wonder how many times…not in my life, which would be as the sand by the sea, but yesterday…I was too much in appearance and too little in reality? I wonder how many times today I shall be too much in appearance and too little in reality? This reality thing can be swimming against the tide can’t it?
Of course we work around it by saying, “Perception is reality.” That is our trump card, our carte blanche, our Get out of Jail Free card. One would think the way we play that card that Milton Bradley invented the ethical rules of the universe.
Perceptions can indeed be important, but they are important not because they necessarily represent the ground/substance of reality; they are important in the measure they are grounded in reality.
Is my character grounded in the reality of Christ, or is it a facade on a Hollywood movie-studio street? Are the things upon which I base decisions rooted and grounded in the Person of Jesus Christ, or would Machiavelli or Madison Avenue or popular Christianity prove me and find me acceptable?
Is my life embedded in the Prime Realty, the Holy Trinity?
Jesus was constantly bumping up against hypocrisy, but it wasn’t individual hypocrisy so much as systemic hypocrisy – a system of appearances, a matrix of facade, a false persona. This is our challenge. It is the challenge of Revelation Chapter 13 that we have each day, shall we give our minds and hearts to a persona antithetical to the Lamb of Revelation Chapter 14?
We fail to see the danger of false personas. We invite the uninitiated into collective religious personas which are antithetical to the Body of Christ; those religious personas are a matrix within which we live, they form our communication patterns, they become our measure of acceptance or rejection, we become the Corinthians with competing groups – when we do that we “walk as mere men” according to Paul; we do not live as the sons and daughters of the Living God – ah, but yes, we can sell books, pack buildings, and market ourselves when we master appearances.
Perhaps we forget that the beast of Revelation 13 is not the only false persona of the Apocalypse; there is the whore as well – the seductress that is the counterpoint to the Bride of the Lamb. She invites us to a bed of communion that just feels so right how could it be wrong?
Appearance or reality? What is it in my own life? What is it within the church?