Our desire for self-preservation is often at the expense of developing authentic relationships.
July 17, 2017, 5:00 AM

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.  “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness. Matthew 23:25-28


Through the years of trying to make ends meet I have become a skilled interviewer. Any question an employer could pose to a potential candidate I’ve been asked. Of course, you had your run of the mill quandaries like “what’s your greatest weakness?” or “what skills do you possess that make you stand above the rest? “ Then there were those questions that seemed to come out of left field. I’ll never forget when I got asked with a straight face: if you could be any animal, which one would you choose and why? After wondering what this question had to do with me working retail, I began to consider my answer. I figured it was probably best to steer clear of skunk and porcupine because those animals are clearly not team players. Should I say a cheetah and talk about how I’m a fast worker? Maybe pick a vulture because I’m ruthless when going after a sale? I ended up choosing a duck billed platypus. Needless to say, that response was quickly followed with a “Thanks for your time…we’ll keep your resume on file.”


Here’s the thing about that interview question. A chameleon would be a fantastic answer. They are easily adaptable workers. They are able to deal with a change in surroundings. Chameleons don’t stick out or cause any personnel issues. These lizards just do their job quietly and fade into the background. Sometimes you don’t even know they’re around.  Even though chameleons would excel in the business world, they are a horrible choice if you want to build intimate relationships with others. Chameleons have shallow friendships. Their ability to change colors is a defensive mechanism. It keeps not only predators at bay, but everyone else as well. No one gets close.


Chameleons change who they are based on their surroundings. Seeing their true colors is near to impossible. Sadly, many of us live our lives as chameleons. Often times you have been three different people before lunch. Your “Sunday” you looks nothing like the other you that you portrait during the rest of the week. You’ve got your work friends, neighborhood friends, Facebook friends and your church friends and they all are given a different picture of who you are. Then, there is your family, who see what you’re like when you let your guard down. They see the good, bad and the ugly. No one can blame you for your chameleon tendencies. We live in a culture where acceptance trumps character and friends trump integrity.


But, our spiritual lives aren’t limited to our Bibles, church service or small group. It shows up everywhere. We can’t compartmentalize our faith. When we broadcast more than one message, we are telling the world we are confused about who we are. Consequently, everyone else becomes confused about who we are.   Jesus speaks to this reality in Matthew 23:25-28. In this passage, Jesus condemns the religious leaders for sending out mixed messages. Outwardly they appeared to have it altogether, but inwardly they were full of corruption, greed and hypocrisy. It is extremely dangerous to live one way and say you are something else. You can’t be fully loved unless you are fully known. Even more importantly, you can’t fully love others without fully embracing the love God has for you. Without it, you’ll resort to chameleon mode in your relationships in search for that elusive fulfillment only His love can provide.


This ruins our relationships. Hypocrisy always leads to isolation and destroys your ability to have intimacy. Because you are a different person to everyone, over time you lose your ability to truly connect to anyone. The barrier to developing authentic relationships is self-preservation. If we are more concerned with our own self-preservation we will hide behind an image that we want others to believe about us. Our desire for self-preservation is often at the expense of developing authentic relationships. How do you wrestle with being a chameleon and sending out mixed messages of who you are to others? What causes this self-preservation?


This is my Prayer: Father God, instead of changing who I am to suit my surroundings, may I show my true colors to others. Lord help me to live authentically and transparently. Allow me to expose who I am, the good as well as the bad, to those who care for me. Jesus I desire to worship You with my whole heart.  Teach me to do so each day.  In Your name, Jesus. Amen.