I think for most of my Christian life I have felt like an imposter. I know myself pretty well. I know how hard my heart can be. I know how difficult it often is for me to do things with the right motives, with a spirit of real love and compassion. I know how far short that I fall daily of loving God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. Worse, when I stand up to teach, I know that there are more spiritual people in the room, and I wonder how I wound up behind the podium. I live with the constant reality of faults, failures, and spiritual battles that I often lose. It’s no wonder that I tend to feel like a phony, even when I am actually doing real Kingdom work.
In my experience, this is a common feeling among Christian people. If only God would regenerate us and instantly make us like Jesus so that we wouldn’t have to cringe every time someone tells us Christians are hypocrites (because we know they’re telling the truth). We live each day painfully aware that we have a long way to go in the process of being sanctified, and that means that many things we do and say are tinged with a little fear that someone will find us out, will realize or remember that we aren’t as saintly as some might believe. We start to feel like we’re struggling to be something we aren’t.
But that isn’t how the Bible talks about salvation. Scripture teaches us that when Christ rescues us, we become a brand new creation. We are a different animal, so to speak. That isn’t who we’re trying to be; it’s who we are. So, when we wrestle with the reality that sin is still an issue for us and all the world, when we beat ourselves up behind closed doors because we said and did one thing, but “felt” something different, we have to remember that this faith isn’t a never-ending struggle to be something we aren’t. That isn’t Christianity. What we are actually doing is struggling to be who we ARE. We are new. We have hearts that are bent toward God, not away from Him. We have ears that hear and comprehend His words and eyes that see His beauty. We have the Holy Spirit, who convicts us, encourages us, and helps us know the love of Christ. There’s a reason we call sanctification a process: it’s a long journey of becoming more and more who we are.
Someday we won’t be hampered by sin anymore. Until then, we can stand before this world and our church with confidence that we aren’t phonies. We aren’t perfect, not even close. But we are exactly who God says we are: brand new creations. His own children. And works in progress. He is making something beautiful here.