Pretence: an attempt to make something that is not the case appear true
Occasionally when I am really desperate for some fresh air, and, let’s face it, I need to give God a good ear bashing, I go for a walk.
Going for a walk seems to be a rich man’s activity I’ve noticed. I don’t think Bob the bonded brick maker needs to go for a walk, join a gym and eat low fat low sugar low carb no legume diet. “Hey Bob, what does your Fitbit say?”.
Anyhoo, go away Bob. I like going for a walk. (When it suits me, not like, as a discipline like a commitment or anything.)
Whilst I was walking there was a small interlude, maybe 3 seconds or more when I wasn’t having a conversation/ whinge/ all out brawl with God in my head. Incredibly God seized the moment I generously gave him and whispered in my ear. More like he put his glasses with his special “see what I see” lenses on me.
You see I live in a nice place. New homes, manicured gardens, rendered walls, parklands, playgrounds with soft rubbery bouncy stuff so kids don’t swing on the trees. You get the picture. As I walked past a “stream” lined with native plants (otherwise known as a drain) I looked into the water and saw some sludge. Grey, slimy, smelly, festering sludge.
I half expected someone to leap out of the nearby bush blowing a whistle and hurrying me along shouting “nothing to see here”. This sludge was like a crack in the picture. An alternate dimension. It didn’t belong.
I focussed my eyes on the spirit level straight hedge at the neighbouring house, listened to the nearby birdsong, tried to eliminate the heinous sight form my eyes. But there it was. Sludge.
And then I remembered. This community, reminiscent of the Truman show with it’s perfectly perfect perfection and perfectness is actually built on a swamp. Yes we imported untold amounts of clean sorry I hope you didn’t need that sand from somewhere else to dump on said swamp to ensure we could lay our foundations. But as its core deep deep down below the dirt we layered, and pummelled into it, despite our attempts to suffocate it, it’s still a swamp.
… And then he said, don’t be fooled by the pretence. All is not well, the festering swamp is pleased that you don’t see it. It wants you to look away, to focus on the façade. It wants to hide deep beneath your layers of pious pretending, your fear, your control, your greed. It wants you to forget it is there, supporting you as you build your house on it.
The poor like Bob don’t have much pretence. They are naked. There is no pretending that Bob’s life is perfectly perfect. Bob’s life sucks. But guess what. So does mine. I have just been fooled into thinking that if I layer enough dirt and pretty things on it, I won’t notice it sucks (or at least others won’t notice, and I can pretend like a boss).
But guess what. God doesn’t suck!
God sent his son so that we may have life! That we might have freedom! Both Bob and I, and you!
But you gotta get naked like Bob I reckon.
You gotta look the swamp right in the eyeballs and say NO. I choose Christ.