The Canadian women’s hockey team is in trouble. They didn’t play the game well at all. In fact, they completely forgot most of the rules of the game and made little attempt to remember them. “Didn’t they win the gold medal?” you might ask. Yes, they did, but that is not the game I am referring to. In reality, that is not the game the world cares about.
To what game am I referring? The “Public Persona” game.
Here are the rules to the “Public Persona” game:
1.) Remember there are always people watching.
2.) Keep your destructive personal habits as secretive as possible.
3.) Announce your flattering personal habits to as many people as possible.
4.) Always be aware of how the current culture defines “destructive” and “flattering” personal habits. The definitions will change over time.
5.) If you fail on rule #3, when questioned about your habits simply stare at a prepared statement while you unconvincingly read the words, “I am sorry if I disappointed anyone. I will try to be a better person for myself, my family, and my fans.”
6.) After you’ve completed rule #5, redouble your efforts to hide the destructive behavior that got you in trouble in the first place.
7.) If you fail at rule #6, repeat step #5 and try again. Don’t worry. If you are popular and pretty enough, the culture will give you as many chances as possible. Who knows, when you die they just might convince themselves that you were some kind of savior.
That’s the game the Canadians failed to play. The IOC was upset for the women celebrating the way they did in an “Olypmic venue”. The women should have been more “discreet”. It wasn’t what the IOC “wanted to see”. The reality is that the IOC doesn’t care if these women drink or smoke cigars, regardless of their age. The IOC only cares about the Olympics taking a black eye in public opinion.
However, the Canadian’s failure to play the game is a necessary part of the vicious cycle that is the “Public Persona” game. You see, who have made the rules of the game the pattern of their life need this kind of negative attention showered on someone other than themselves. It gives them fodder for building up their “flattering” qualities score by saying to others, “They definitely should have shown more class,” or “I’m just so disappointed in those girls for not understanding the impact they have on little girls across the country.” The whole time they are pointing vehemently at the social faux pas of another, breathing a sigh of relief because, at least for the moment, they are safe from being hoisted upon the pedestal of public scrutiny.
Unfortunately, we Christians find ourselves sucked into this game just as much as those outside of the faith. We have been convinced that no one needs to know our struggles. Nothing good could come from admitting our faults. Our public persona would be shattered if people knew what we were really like at home, when we are all alone, or the thoughts that take up residence in the depths of our hearts and minds. It scares us to think of what others will do or think if our turn on the pedastal comes around.
Brothers and sisters, we must not surrender our lives to the rules of the “Public Persona” game. We must not segment our lives in such a way that create a false reality to deflect attention away from who we really are: sinful people being sanctified by a Holy God. We must be authentic with each other in sharing our weaknesses and struggles. We must learn to trust and love each other in a more Christ-like way. Rather than gasp and ridicule the confession of a brother or sister, we must 1.) pray for healing, 2.) provide biblical comfort and counsel, and 3.) walk with him/her through the recovery process.
Rather than creating two separate lives that require constant self-centered policing, let us live a unified life of faith and repentance demonstrated by good works that glorify our Father in heaven. God is neither honored by or pleased with the “Public Persona” game. In fact, it is what Jesus preached against his entire ministry.
My prayer for us is that authenticity and transparency would be core values of our lives in Jesus Christ. As disciples, let us boldly proclaim the holiness and grace of God from Scripture and from our own personal stories. Let us humbly repent of sin and lovingly urge others to do the same. Let us be stable and firmly rooted in the truths of who Christ is and who we are as his elect.