Are You Playing The Game?

by Rayola Kelley

Have you ever noticed that we are a society that finds the majority of our entertainment in the games people play? We have sports channels that keep us entertained 24 hours a day as well as television and movies that play psychological games with our minds and emotions.

Our young people are being conditioned to play the games as well. They play social games with their peers and rebellious manipulative games with their parents. Some are addicted to video and computer games that allow them to escape both reality and responsibility.

M arried couples play twisted, perverted emotional or mind games with each other. These games are manipulative, which often cause the battle of the wills.

You can watch parents with self-serving motives play on the emotions of their children. They intimidate, threaten, barter or appeal to responsibility (duty) or guilt of their offspring in order to get their own way.

Games abound! The problem with games is that they are deceptive in nature and they change reality. This is why you will not find such games mentioned in the Bible nor are they part of heaven.

People can actually hide in the fleshly excitement and sensationalism of games that invoke every kind of emotional response. Like drugs, games allow people to escape from reality. Sadly, they are not only encouraged by our culture, philosophies and practices but in Christendom as well.

Christians play various games in the name of religion and Christianity. These games also change a person’s reality by displaying a false perception of what is really going on behind closed doors (their relationship with God). The question is how does an individual play these games in church and why would a Christian submit to any form of delusion?

First of all, it is easy to play these religious games. All you have to do is wear the right mask. There are various masks to choose from in the Christian realm. I would like to share some of the most popular masks with you.

One of the most common masks is the religious mask. This mask gives the impression of righteousness while hiding arrogance, judgmentalism and mockery. People with this mask refer to their lack of love as being righteous indignation, their hatred as religious zeal against sin and their mockery as intolerance towards those who are not toeing the line.

People who wear their religious mask often pervert new Christians, wound weak Christians and become Satan’s advocate against real servants of God. The problem is their mask gives them a false security about their spiritual well being and keeps them from seeing their own wickedness.

The next mask is the compliant mask. People who are hiding rebellion in their hearts wear this mask. They are simply playing the game to keep people unaware of how far away from God they really are. These people want the things of the world without being called to accountability or paying the consequences. The problem with these people is that since their affections are with the world, they have already become entangled in it. It is just a matter of time before they find themselves falling victim to the enticements of the world and the devices of Satan.

The next mask is the Christianette mask. This mask displays good deeds in order to hide independence from God. These people have conformed outwardly to some religious creed but have not been transformed inwardly. They want to be associated with Jesus but only on their terms. In other words, they still want to call the shots.

The people who wear the “Christianette” mask will always remain on the outside fringes of God’s best. They will find themselves operating in unbelief as they eventually develop a hard heart towards the real author and finisher of their faith.

The next mask is the “happy-clappy” Christian mask. Those who are hurting or struggling in their Christian life often wear this mask. They wear it out of guilt and fear because they believe that a Christian is supposed to be “happy”, not sad or depressed. Outwardly they are performing for others while inwardly they are crying and dying because of fear, insecurity, rejection or other hurts. If these people do not find help, they will eventually fall through the cracks and become prey to Satan.

The next question is why do Christians prefer to wear masks? The answer is simple, the atmosphere of the church often encourages it. After all, how real are the people in your congregation? How many come to church but isolate themselves by simply sitting in the pew? Do they admit personal struggles or do they hide behind masks, titles, doctrines and denominations because they are afraid others will find out they are really human and not super-spiritual after all?

Let’s be honest, it takes time, energy and commitment on our part to deal with the people behind their masks. We would rather believe their mask than journey into a person’s life. After all, we may have to confront someone whose relationship we value or feel we need. Or we may have to invest in someone who we consider undesirable—someone who gives us a view into a world we prefer not to know about.

Are you getting the picture? Masks let Christians off the hook. We can live in a world of fantasy and ignorant bliss about Christendom, our church and people we encounter. We don’t have to get too involved, too close or too “dirty.” We can always be a Christian from a distance, a spectator, who can sit idly by watching others play the games of life and religion.

I must admit, there have been times when I have worn some of these masks in order to hide my spiritual struggles and depravity but they are deceptive, dishonorable and destructive. I realize that I have hurt, judged and wounded people, as well as brought a reproach upon my Lord, while standing behind masks.

Are you wearing a mask? If you are it is time to ask Jesus to strip it away for one day He will lift up a mirror that will show you the error of your heart and ways.

Maybe you are one of the blessed ones who are not wearing a mask–but what are you doing about those who are? Are you being a spectator or you contending for that person by making yourself available to God for the purpose of prayer, instruction, exhortation or perhaps a compassionate hand?

I want to encourage each of you to become real before God so that you can be a genuine expression of Jesus Christ to those who are lost, hurting or misguided.

Thank you for being an extension of Jesus to Gentle Shepherd Ministries. With your friendship, prayers and faithful support, we can continue to serve God together.