Have you ever been around a “one upper”? Or maybe, you are a “one upper”?
You know what I’m talking about, don’t you? That person who upon hearing a story from someone else always has another story that one ups the person before. The thing is, most of those folks are likely making it up. They want the people listening to the story to be amazed and to embrace them.
The religious world these days is full of people who are simply making stuff up. I’m sure if I took the time to dig into other religious traditions that I could find examples across the board. I’m most knowledgeable of Christianity and even more so about American Protestant Christianity, and so that’s the context that I’m thinking through.
As I look at social media screes and see some of the stuff that finds its way onto television, I am struck by how little it resembles the gospel. The rage fueled preaching and tweeting are heartbreaking. Yet, many do so because it gets them traction. The crowd applauds and let me tell you, the applause is addictive. What they say and post are simply designed to make themselves look good with little connection to reality.
Jesus once said, “A person making things up tries to make himself look good. But someone trying to honor the one who sent him sticks to the facts and doesn’t tamper with reality.”
Read that again.
If I put that into my own words, I’d say, “When we forget who we are really are, we lose the plot.”
So many of us have lost the plot. We’ve lost our sense of self. We have become so bound to our political tribe that we have become blind to reality. As a result, we “tamper with reality.”
You likely remember the famous, “alternative facts,” from a former White House staffer. It’s become a bit of a punchline. Sadly though, this has become the way by which many of us live and move out in the world.
Why? Because many Christians and Christian leaders have forgotten who sent them. Instead of honoring the Divine by sticking to reality, they simply seek to make themselves look good.
It is almost as if many of us are ashamed to be a people that can choose to love neighbor and enemy.
It’s as though we are ashamed of our identity as a people who have received grace, mercy, and forgiveness and as a result are called to offer the same.
It is as if we are ashamed to be following the Christ that willingly chose to sacrifice himself for the sake of bringing reconciliation to all of creation.
I need to constantly remind myself who sent me. It is here that I find my truest self. When I rest most fully in the mystery of the Divine through Christ then I find little need to make myself look good. In those moments, and to be sure they are moments,
I lose my need to be right and find a holy desire to get it right.
I lose my self righteousness and find gracious submission.
I lose my desire to make myself look and find reality.
How about you? As you reflect on the way you move out in the world, are you someone seeking to make yourself look good by manufacturing your own reality or have you found yourself and are willing to embrace true reality? Let’s talk about it in the comments.
Nerd Note: It strikes me that the story of Wanda Maximoff (The Scarlett Witch) could be easily seen as a modern parable of this truth.