Our "Wizard of Oz" Fetish

In our culture, there are few virtues more celebrated than the ability to be "real," "authentic," and "true to yourself." 

"Be a better you!" has become our mantra.  You would almost think it is something Jesus taught.

But I'm here to tell you that "being real" is overrated.  And being you-ier shouldn't be our aim.

Being real is just an excuse for most people.  It's an excuse for tawdry behavior, poor social graces, and otherwise a license to demonstrate boorish behaviors and mindsets.

Maybe I'm just being cynical.

But keep in mind that the world is full sociopaths who are just being true to themselves every single day, as they spin clever and complex webs of deception.  The world is full of confused individuals for whom being real means hacking off their sexual organs and replacing them with something a plastic surgeon designed.  The world is full of Donald J. Trumps who bulldoze others in front of celebratory crowds... all in the name of being real.

All these and a million others are chasing the idea of being real.  But I think if that's what's real, then maybe being real should require a specially designated license that is only loaned out on a temporary basis.

One might say I'm misconstruing things.

You might say that "Being true to yourself" is really about living a life of bold conviction, acting according to one's sincerely and deeply held beliefs and passions.  It's not about being crazy.  Rather, it's the decision to be your own man, where you walk according to the beat of your own drum, daring to be different, and utterly unique in a society of conformists and sellouts.

And while there is much noble-minded thought in what you might have just said, I still can't get around this preoccupation such a mindset has with the self.

It's a dangerous mindset, and requires a lot of responsibility.  It requires a level a responsibility that most of us probably can't handle. Heck, the devil himself ultimately couldn't handle it when he was previously an angel in heaven.  The devil was true to himself, and in the process of that he became self-intoxicated, and rebelled against God and took a third of heaven with him.

Like the devil, I don't think we can handle being real.

Indeed, since the fall realness is not something we have craved.  We've all become like Adam, hanging out in the garden, covering our nakedness with leaves, hiding from God and each other.  We prefer to hang out in the shadows, and to live in rooms full of smoke and mirrors, even among our closest of friends and family.  We boast a lot about wanting to be real, but when the most real Person to every walk the face of the Earth showed up, we ran Him out of town and crucified Him on a cross.

At the end of the day, we don't want what is real. Otherwise we wouldn't have treated Jesus like we did.

Instead, we love our larger than life Wizard of Oz personas.  And if we ourselves cannot be the Great and Powerful Wizard of Oz, we will pounce upon every opportunity to live vicariously through those who take on that role, and make messiah's of men who were not the actual Messiah.

At the end of the day, I don't believe God ever created us to be real.  He created us to be image-bearers.  He created us to reflect the image of the One in whom we were ultimately created, and the only One who has had the capacity to be really real. It's only in becoming more and more like Jesus that any of us have any hope at being real and authentic.

And we do that, not by boldly asserting ourselves out there into this world.  Rather, we do it by daily picking up our cross, denying ourselves, and following Him.

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