there are people in this world who pretend to love us.  and they pretend to love Jesus, too.

Relationships on earth tend to be a good indicator of how people relate to Christ.

Any relationship is hard work.  Loving and trusting people who are unlovable and untrustworthy is plain yucky. It’s probably why Jesus, when asked what the most important commandment was, answered, “The Lord your God is one; so love the Lord God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence and energy.’ And here is the second: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ There is no other commandment that ranks with these.”

One thing Pretenders are often good at is keeping everything surface level and mostly impersonal. Their definition of friendship and relationship revolves around the idea that people are only friends if it is of benefit to the Pretender.  Pretenders will only stay in a relationship as long as their needs are being fulfilled.  That’s how they understand God as well.

They bend His holy word to their liking, he’s their Gumby God.

Between each movement of life, the Pretender stops and adjusts God.

Pretenders have an obsessive need to control every movement of the Trinity.

When the still-shots of a Pretender’s life are in motion, sometimes it’s very difficult to discern how things are moving. Who is doing the stretching and bending?

It’s when life slows down or stops, that you get a peek behind the scenes to see the Pretender manipulating each and every scene.

Pretenders look around at those with real relationships and they build a fake community on their Gumby God set based on what they think are the true things. They add characters and stories and props. And they continue to pause between each photo to manipulate the set to their desires. When something doesn’t bend as they wish, they simply discard the object and replace it. Whether it be a person, a building, or an occurrence, if it doesn’t bend to the Pretender’s will, it won’t be in their life, on the set of their movie.

Unfortunately, I’ve been a character in more than one person’s Gumby God movie.  In the past decade, I can count five miserable human beings who have misled,  manipulated, and discarded me.  Each time, my soul has been cut, broken, scarred. I wonder what it is about me, why these predators and pretenders lull me into a false feeling of safety and then cut my loyal, loving heart wide open and I vow to never let it happen again.

Is this a lesson I somehow can’t learn?

Or is it as Peter said? When life gets really difficult, don’t jump to the conclusion that God isn’t on the job. Instead, be glad that you are in the very thick of what Christ experienced. This is a spiritual refining process, with glory just around the corner.

One thing I do know for sure is that God knows they’re pretending :  Knowing the correct password—saying ‘Master, Master,’ for instance— isn’t going to get you anywhere with me. What is required is serious obedience—doing what my Father wills. I can see it now—at the Final Judgment thousands strutting up to me and saying, ‘Master, we preached the Message, we bashed the demons, our God-sponsored projects had everyone talking.’ And do you know what I am going to say? ‘You missed the boat. All you did was use me to make yourselves important. You don’t impress me one bit. You’re out of here.’  (here)

I also know that Jesus had a Pretender–Judas.

Jesus also had Simon Peter, though sometimes misguided, Peter’s experience of trials and sifting brought about character Jesus knew existed in him. Peter’s hardships brought him closer to Jesus which led to a level of trust that can’t be forged without fire.

As Joseph said so beautifully, “Don’t you see, you planned evil against me but God used those same plans for my good, as you see all around you right now.”

In the end, as I sit broken, bruised, and bleeding from another Pretender, I know I’m being sifted, as Peter was.

I know that I’ll come out of this with scars, but I know the One who Heals–Jehovah Ropha.

He is also Jehovah-Jireh–the One who Provides.

And if I’m honest, even though these parts of life are painful, rather than be a Pretender myself, I’d choose to be wrapped in the protection and provision of Jesus Christ…even through the fire.