Don't Be Something You Are Not!

by Dr. Ken Matto

(Gal 6:3 KJV) For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.

Ever since the Iraq war commenced in 2003 I have noticed a strange phenomenon occurring on the highways of my state and maybe after reading this, you will notice it in your home area also. Whenever we turn on the news, we hear something of the war in Iraq and almost everyday we hear the Hummer vehicle mentioned as they are used quite extensively in the war zone. The strange phenomenon that I see occurring in my home state is that more and more Hummers are showing up on the highways. Now Hummer has been around for a while but just since the war commenced, it seems that many are purchasing the Hummer. In a residential area like my own, why would anybody need a vehicle of that size with a price tag starting at $53,000 plus with gas prices being what they are? I am going to venture a guess that those who buy these vehicles are putting on a front that they are very military minded. I would also venture another guess that if these same Hum-V owners were called into actual combat and had to drive those vehicles in a war zone, where around every corner a suicide bomber could be waiting for them, they would be the ones who would be screaming the loudest and would try by every means to get out of military service. These people like putting on the airs that they are something cut above the other drivers and maybe putting on the airs that they are tougher than others also. Quite frankly, they are trying to be something they are not!

This world is loaded with people who attempt to be something that they are not. Unfortunately, it is something that can be found in each of us. The question remains, is how far beyond reality do I want to go with my charade? Our verse above speaks of people who think they are something, when in essence they are nothing, that situation becomes extremely deceptive and can lead to serious consequences in a person’s life. We see this type of situation coming into the Christian arena by the droves. Have you ever driven around and seen a church with the name of the Pastor advertised as a Bishop or Apostle? I am sure we all have. The question that begs for an answer is who told these people that they are Apostles or Bishops? The Bishop in Scripture was nothing more than the ruling Elder in a local church body. We have no more Apostles in the first century term, as one who received revelations or inspiration directly from God. The word “Apostle” in the Greek is “apostolon” which means one who is sent. That means that every Christian is an apostle. There are no such things as it being some type of special gift for today with special powers.

It is unfortunate that these people are attempting to be something that they are not. I have heard, both on TV and Radio, ministry founders who push their children into the limelight by getting them to preach. Some of these “kids” are so boring and just plain dry, that they could put grass to sleep. Yet, they try to be like their fathers and are deceiving themselves that they are delivering the same type of ministry their father’s did. This is not to say that these men are not saved nor is it to say they are intentionally deceiving, but the bottom line is they are being pushed into a ministry where they are not adequately empowered. Now I have a confession to make. I preached my first sermon at my home church sometime in 1982. By that time I had been watching Dr. Charles Stanley for about a year and I must confess that I had adopted his preaching style for that first sermon. You see he is about six feet tall and I am five feet and two inches tall, so the body style was definitely different and did not really fit. As I continued to preach, the Lord had begun to allow me to preach in the style that was me, and not someone else.

The point is that many of us are not happy with who we are and we always seem to desire to be someone else. We must come to the realization that God made us the way we are and He has placed us in the very situation that we are in. We may be living in city, a residential area, or even in a remote area in a different country. No matter where we are, God has plans for our lives right where we are. Where did we ever get the idea that missionary work is only missionary work when it is done thousands of miles from where we live. God placed us where we live simply because there are needs where we live and we are to get busy fulfilling those needs. If God wants to move us, He will. Too many Christians are dormant because they have the notion that God doesn’t consider missionary work as missionary work five miles from our homes? God will send missionaries across this globe but the majority of Christians will never live more than a few miles from where they were born. I was born in Perth Amboy, NJ and I have resided in Edison for over 40 years. Edison is 5 miles from Perth Amboy.

God created us with our personalities and He created us with a ministry in mind and that ministry is normally to those around us. While we can still support world missions, our personal ministries should not be supplanted by check writing. I like to support World Missionary Press but that does not take away from personal ministry. Think of supporting world missions as a global extension of your local ministry. If you assess the talents and spiritual gifts the Lord has given you, then you will realize that you do not have to be somebody else because you will find that being yourself is a greater asset to the ministry. Can you imagine Peter dressing in fine linen and wearing appropriate jewelry of the time? Peter was a tough fisherman and I could not picture him as any other than a tough fisherman.

My own personal book learning did not change who I am. I grew up on the streets and as a result, when you combine street smarts and the Bible, you have the best situation because you are able to spot an “operator” (AKA phony) a mile away. So be who you are to the Glory of God and don’t be somebody else. If you try to be somebody else, you will be pegged as a phony and once you lose credibility, it takes a long time to regain it, if you can. God works through how He made us and not through a facade. Basically, trying to be somebody that you are not is a form of hypocrisy. Hypocrisy comes from the ancient Greek theater where the actor placed a mask over his face. Well, when we try to be somebody or something that we are not, we are placing a mask over our face. This we should not do because as opaque as that mask is, people will see through it and if people can see through it, then God can definitely see through it.

Over the years, I have seen and heard many Christians attempt to be just like their favorite teacher or preacher. We may be able to glean some of the good characteristics from them but we must not become them. I have heard many good preachers over the years and have learned many good principles from them but God made me who I am and those principles that I have learned need to be adapted to my personality. Those principles must never be used to change us into them.

(1 Cor 4:16 KJV) Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me. Here the Apostle Paul counsels us to be a follower of him. Paul is not telling these people to follow him as if he is some cult leader, he is basically telling them to imitate his example as a father or mother is an example to their son or daughter. Paul doesn’t follow three different Gospels or teachings, he follows only one and this is what he wants the Corinthians to do, because if they come together with the true Gospel, then unity will occur in this congregation. How strong the modern church would be if it threw out all the peripheral man-centered teaching and just taught and lived the Bible.

As Paul preached the only Gospel we know, we are to pattern ourselves after Paul’s example. The churches need to align themselves with Scripture but mostly the individual Christian needs to align themselves with the Scriptures which would mean that they would not be busy trying to be somebody else but would be busy disseminating the Gospel according to their own talents and gifts the Lord gave them. Paul was an example of someone who was sold out to the Gospel and he wasn’t concerned about becoming an eloquent preacher or gaining a great following. He was concerned about the churches and individual Christians. God shaped Paul’s Christian walk by giving him a ministry which he was empowered to handle and God will give us ministries and empower us to handle them. Just like a flower that blooms where it is planted, we need to settle down and ask God to open our eyes to the ministry opportunities right around us. Let us not busy ourselves trying to be somebody else out of jealousy but let us be busy in the work of the Lord. Don’t buy a $53,000 Hummer, instead buy a less expensive vehicle which you can use in your ministry. Wise stewardship is a good indicator of how you will do ministry. Be who God created you to be and let the Lord mold and shape you into His image, not another person’s.  (2/6/05)