I am a spy show addict. There…I’ve written it down for all the world (or at least the dozens…ok, maybe a dozen) blog readers to see. Back from when I was a kid and my parents took me and my brothers to see a double feature of James Bond films at the drive in, I’ve been a fan of spies.
More recently my wife and I watched through the entire run of MI5 on Netflix. It was a great show…the only problem was that they regularly killed off key, main characters. It got to the point where we would guess how long each new “main player” would last on the show. The MI5 series finally came to an end when, during the last episode, they killed off all the main characters, the writers, producers, camera jockeys, and some stray cats that had wandered onto the set.
But here’s the deal with spies…they deal in lies. They cannot, by virtue of their role in the world, be who they actually are. They spy and they lie. They lie in order to spy. They are not who they appear to be. Not with their families, not with their friends, ultimately not even with each other. They are spies and they tell lies. They present themselves as one kind of person but they are a different kind of person altogether. They pretend in order to get: information, advantage, position. They lie to spy and they are not who they pretend to be.
This hit me the other day when I was having lunch with someone who needed a listening ear. At the end of the conversation, I said, “If you need to, reach out; I’ll do my best to be there.” He said, “I know you will; you’re the real deal.”
I thought instantly: I’m not the real deal. I’m very much a fake deal. The outside of me, the me I present to the world, may seem like the real deal, but just below the surface is the genuine me and, trust me, it’s anything but the real deal. It’s a very fake deal. There is a very deep disconnect between the person I want to be in Christ and the person I actually am.
Paul says this in Romans 7:14-25a, “14 We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.[c] For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
I know that God’s Spirit is at work in me to more conform me to the image of Christ. I know that He who has begun a good work in me is faithful to complete it. I know that when I am weak, He is strong. I know that with people this is impossible but that with God all things are possible. I know these things and yet I still feel like a spy. I feel very much like not the real deal. And it is troublesome.
It’s troublesome because, if spies have to pretend in order to get, I think followers of Jesus have to be real in order to give. We have to be closer to the person God wants us to be in order to be available to Him for His purposes. I think, with Paul, that this self-awareness is ok. He is not crippled by realizing he is not yet the real deal. He is energized to move more in the direction of Jesus, “Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
I am not after perfection here; that is beyond my grasp. I look forward to being made perfect but I know that’s an operation for the other side. What I am hoping for is a bit of convergence. A closer trafficking between the person I actually am and the person God is growing me to be. If I can get closer to being who God wants me to be, I can say to someone who might mistakenly believe I’m the “real deal,” that I am not, but at least I know it. I’m not the real deal but I know who is: Jesus. And, even me (as the not real deal) can point people towards the One who is.
© All rights reserved. Scripture from the NIV, Zondervan.