Can you remember the way you played as a young child? Often pretending to be someone or something wondrous or whimsical. Maybe a cowboy; a movie star; an astronaut or a fireman? Or any of hundreds of other real or imaginary characters? Sometimes rescuing. Sometimes destroying. Sometimes creating. A pile of blocks could become a city, a few sticks would serve as inhabitants.
Usually when little children begin to walk and talk, they also begin pretending – giving a stuffed animal an imaginary drink from a cup or rocking a doll to sleep. As adults we are expected to outgrow such childish behavior. But do we really outgrow it? Maybe such behavior just gets relabeled and repackaged. Maybe, as adults, we pretend that we don’t pretend. Maybe pretending is a major part of life. And maybe pretending is becoming more and more significant in our world.
There is a powerful drive in mankind (See Gen 2:18) to associate with others of our kind. The drive to associate is so potent that I believe it is responsible for a significant part of our behavior. Surrounding that drive are many human emotions such as love, hate, jealousy, hostility, revenge and grief. Such emotions shape and guide the nature of our associations.
The intensity of the drive to associate with others may be great enough in some to cause irrational and dangerous behavior even to the point of death. Manipulating such a powerful drive by entities such as governments and bullies can and has been used as an effective means of controlling, suppressing and dominating people.
I suspect that powerful drive to associate – to be accepted into some sort of group drives much of the pretending in social arenas. Pretending to be someone other than or better than who you are seems to be a growing characteristic of the present age. Intense need for relationship can cause an individual to join a street gang, commit a crime, become involved with drugs or even drive some to imagine themselves as being of a different gender – all for the sake of ‘fitting in’ somewhere.
Is the practice of pretending on the increase? A lot of younger people have become infatuated with role-playing computer games. The entertainment and advertising industries are all about pretending. Halloween has become a major annual celebration in part because it sanctions role-playing and pretending. Role-playing is being prescribed as a form of training and a form of psychological therapy. We even see some aspects of role-playing (such as pretending to be a different gender) being protected by laws. So, is the issue of pretending a growing thing? I believe it is.
My observations above list only a few behaviors, but the issue of pretending is far greater with many such behaviors coming straight from the father of lies (see John 8:44). Additionally, there are many other kinds of pretending going on around each of us every day. For example one person may be in love with another person and pretend it isn’t so. Another person may hate someone and pretend it isn’t so. Then we pretend such instances are noble when in fact, they are something less than that.
Another example: Munchausen-by-proxy is a psychological disorder where one person makes another sick so the one causing the disease can pretend to rescue the sick one thereby becoming accepted as a hero. Such behavior can happen between a parent and a child or, on a larger scale, between a government and its people. Pretending is sometimes very harmful and can actually generate disaster.
Do you know people who pretend to be Christians in order to be accepted into a group? If they are pretending in that way, that is very dangerous behavior and they are in desperate need of help. See Matthew 7:21-23 for Jesus’ reaction to such pretending.
What is happening to reality in the world? Is it being eaten up by the pretending monster? What happens when reality is finally consumed?
It strikes me as a profoundly dangerous thing to see the reality of our Creator and Savior succumb to the pretending of the Accuser. What do you think?
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