I invite you to read Belinda’s post that will make you think about the daily choices we make–mask or real.
Now for some time a man named Simon had practiced sorcery in the city and amazed all the people of Samaria. He boasted that he was someone great, and all the people, both high and low, gave him their attention and exclaimed, “This man is the divine power known as the Great Power.” They followed him because he had amazed them for a long time with his magic. But when they believed Philip as he preached the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Simon himself believed and was baptized. And he followed Philip everywhere, astonished by the great signs and miracles he saw. When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them. When they arrived, they prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit had not yet come upon any of them; they had simply been baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit. When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money and said, “Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” Acts 8:9-19, NIV
Dependent upon our church upbringing, we are commonly taught, or I should say, mis-taught, that every demon we had before we are saved immediately leaves us once Jesus enters our hearts. Sometimes when this doesn’t happen, people will refer to it as a “bad” salvation experience (as opposed to a “good” salvation experience). Our continued desire to smoke, or to commit fornication, or to gossip or murmur is symbolic of this alleged bad experience. The honest truth is that, short of God’s healing and deliverance, the same demons that chased us before the Lord found us are the same demons that will haunt us after the Lord found us. The Word shows us that, though he walked with Jesus, Judas remained greedy and self-centered. Even Eve and then Adam, with the potential to be more spiritually intimate with God than anyone in the Bible, did not trust Him to give them all that they needed. And from the scriptures above, we can discern that Simon, even after He believed and was baptized, allowed his thirst for attention and power to lead him toward the right Gift, but for the wrong reason.
Was Simon’s salvation sincere? Some say no, but I believe that, like so many of us, he genuinely believed that Christ died for his sins. Not having received the Holy Spirit, however, made a complete difference in his walk with the Father. To be sure, even with the Holy Spirit, there are areas of our lives that we must nail to the cross—daily.
Without daily surrender and acknowledgment of my own need for Christ, I begin to wear the “mask,” as one of our associate pastors calls it. You know the mask–it comes with the permanent smile, an intention to “be nice” to everyone and the pithy church phraseology. Unfortunately, the mask only gives allowance to more clever demons. We look like Christians, but are we a vessel that God can really use? Can we be trusted with the assignments of the Father? Are we guilty of being a substitute for the real thing? Yes, He sees us through the blood of Jesus, but I also know from the book of John that the Lord desires to prune our branches, making us more like Him and less like ourselves. Even our fruitful branches are clipped that we may become more fruitful.
Each day we make a choice—to take on more of Him, and in doing so, to release those things that make us, well, us. I am not speaking of perfection, but instead, of a desire to be “real,” and to allow God to ‘create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit within me.’ (Psalm 51:10) Personally, I am praying to the Lord to not be so preoccupied with the day’s activities because there are too many days when I move immediately from the bed to the kitchen, Smartphone in hand. I’m praying to choose to focus on the good things according to Philippians 4:8-10. Most of all, I pray for all of us that the Lord would reveal to us who we are. And if He chooses to leave my thorns in place as He did Paul (2 Corinthians 12:7-9), may I walk humbly with Him and use even my mess to His glory.
We look like Christians, but are we vessels that God can really use? Are you ready to remove the mask?
Belinda Bullard is a wife to her best friend and a home educating mother of three. Belinda is an author and the owner of A Blessed Heritage Educational Resources, a literature-based history curriculum featuring African-American presence in history, as well as the contributions of other races to American history. A chemical engineer by formal education, she also serves as adjunct faculty for college programs specializing in adult learning. She is a regular contributor to Heart of the Matter Online and Home Educating Family. Belinda blogs at Simply Belinda and Chronicles of a Blessed Heritage