Saturday, March 15, 2008

Fake it till you make it?

Have you ever heard (or used) the phrase, "fake it till you make it," in regards to the living out of the Christian life? Although I've heard the actual phrase used only a handful of times, I've seen the Christian lifestyle that's represented by the phrase in action all throughout my Christian life. And it's sad, because it's nothing less than a fleshly attempt at living the Christian life.

One of the times I heard the phrase used in a sermon, the pastor was talking about the various family qualities and values that we are to live out as Christians. Loving our spouses, loving our kids, "one anothering" each another, and so on. When we find ourselves falling short in our love relationships with each other, what should we do? According to this pastor, we just "fake it till we make it." :( I was very disheartened to hear that. If we're having a hard time loving and showing appreciation to our spouse, for example, we just fake it till we make it. We go through the motions until we find ourselves genuinely loving our spouse.

I'm sorry, but this totally misses the point of Christianity! It sure may appear right to some, since it's an appeal to us to do good things. But all it really is is a fleshly attempt to do these things. The flesh, no matter how good and wonderful it appears, will never, ever, EVER produce what the Spirit can and does produce in us!

Another time I heard the phrase was in a small group setting. We were talking about the gifts of the Spirit, and "how" to walk in them. (shudder) One man suggested the "fake it till you make it" method. ((double-shudder)) For example, if it's the gift of tongues that's in question, just start muttering some words and eventually it will come. Or whatever the gift, just go through the motions enough, and eventually it will become real.

I'm all for "growing" in our gifts, and in the living out of the Christian life. But not through FAKING it! See, there is absolutely nothing fake about love. If we feel we have to fake love in order to grow in love, then we'll never come to a true living out of a love-life.

I can see why the "fake it till you make it" mentality is so prevalent in the church today (even if the phrase itself isn't used a whole lot). The focus in the church today is behavior modification. Sermons, seminars, meetings, exhortations, articles, radio and TV programs, and so on and so on... all focus on getting us to change our behavior from one way ("bad") to another way ("good"). Do I want to stop doing bad and start doing good? Of course! But you can teach me all you want about what is bad behavior and what is good behavior (what I should stop doing and what I should start doing), and yet you will give me no power whatsoever to change my behavior!

Christ in us - and His grace - is the power to live a godly life. There is nothing fake about Christ in us! But when the constant focus is behavior modification, people will take their eyes off of the One who IS the way, the truth and the life and will always be attempting to change themselves. This constant focus on behavior modification, leaves people with, well, a constant focus on behavior modification! They are deceived into thinking that by focusing on good behavior they're focusing on Christ. But since they're not really looking to Christ and His life that miraculously and abundantly indwells us, but rather are focusing on change, then all that's really left is a life of faking it till they make it.

Growing in true love and true godly behavior doesn't come from attempting or faking love or godly behavior. True love and true godly behavior comes over a period of time as we look to Christ, who is in us, to live His life in us, and it comes as we grow in God's unconditional love.


  1. Great post, Joel. Unfortunately, faking it until we make it doesn't work. When the pressure increases, we'll eventually fail and we'll revert back to the familiar behavior. If faking it worked, why would we need Jesus?

    "One man suggested the "fake it till you make it" method. <> For example, if it's the gift of tongues that's in question, just start muttering some words and eventually it will come."

    I know you gave that as an example and that's not the focus of your post but doing that actually worked for me and I've known other people it has worked for. However, after praying in tongues, I soon found out that there's more to this life than that. Maybe I'm opening up a can of worms here but praying in tongues never gave me victory in my life as a believer.

    "Christ in us - and His grace - is the power to live a godly life."

    My attempts at behavior modification have never given me victory. Growing in my understanding that Christ is my life is the only thing that has produced lasting change.


  2. Hi Aida... in this particular case I don't mind the can of worms that were opened. :) To me, the gift of tongues is a great example of all this. I'll try to explain.

    First, I don't believe tongues is for everybody. According to 1 Cor 12 and Romans 12, each member of the Body of Christ is different, and God places them all exactly where He wants them, and each serves for the body as a whole in their own unique ways. Each is gifted differently.

    To some is given the gift of tongues. To others are given other gifts. The key is that each of us walks in the gifts, not through faking it or by fleshly effort, but naturally as the Spirit leads. I think one reason there is a lot of "faking it" in the church is because certain gifts are given undue importance in the church over other gifts... and it is stressed that walking in them is our gift to God, rather than the other way around, which is really the truth. People stress out over trying to perform.

    Why tongues is a good example, at least to me, is because I discovered that once you know you have this gift, it is a natural thing and you don't have to fake it. You open your mouth and it's there. It's not contrived, force or manipulated. (I realize people are able to "fake" this, but I mean that once you have it, it's not something you fake. It's natural.

    And so should it be with the entire Christian life! If you have to force or contrive or fake it, then you're walking by the flesh and not the Spirit.

    Now that you brought it up, I seem to sort of remember some times when I "played around" with speaking in tongues. I had forgotten this. This was before it truly became a reality in my life. The thing is, when it truly came, it truly came. My fleshly efforts didn't make it happen, but it happened only because the Spirit made it happen. If the Spirit wasn't going to make it happen, all the fleshly trying in the world couldn't have made it legitimate.

    All that said, I think tongues is an example that I can relate to because it's a thing I walk in "naturally." Others who have other gifts may be able to relate to this in other ways. I will say that tongues has been a precious thing in my walk with Abba. I don't have time to get into it all right now, but I'll just say that it's made my communication with God much more personal at times, and I can't really explain it.

    The overall point remains, and you said it well, "My attempts at behavior modification have never given me victory. Growing in my understanding that Christ is my life is the only thing that has produced lasting change." :D

  3. While I personally believe that every believer has the ability to pray in tongues, it's not a problem for me if they don't. I believe there are many abilities we've been given that we don't use.

    When I received the ability to pray in tongues, I had been doing it mechanically for some time. Then, one day, it just came out. It was totally the Holy Spirit doing it. All I did was open my mouth.

    Now, when I pray in tongues, it's because of an overflow in my heart or because I'm praying about a situation and I'm not sure how to pray. While I believe this is a wonderful gift for which I'm thankful, I don't believe praying in tongues is a goal in itself.

    I know some people think that the best way to pray is in tongues but I don't agree. Since prayer is the fruit of a relationship with Father, it would be impossible to develop and maintain a real relationship if one person doesn't understand what is being said. I believe one of the purposes of tongues is to edify ourselves so that we can pray more effectively in our own language.

    I'm sorry to have turned your wonderful post into a discussion on tongues but that was where my mind wandered off to when I read what you had written.


  4. Aida... that's quite ok. It's true that I didn't set out to talk about tongues, but overall I think it really fits into what I was getting at with the "faking it" thing. However, I'll have to say that my particular reason for bringing it up actually is rooted in a difference of opinion with you. :D I don't think everyone is meant to speak in tongues, but I think that because some do think that way, that's one reason many feel the need to fake it. It's ok that we disagree, but I get my thoughts from this passage:

    1 Cor 12:4-13
    4 There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6 There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men.

    7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 8 To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.
    12 The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ.

    1 Cor 12:18-20
    18 But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

    I think it's true that even the above passage can be interpreted differently by different people, and that's ok. Overall, the main point that I know we agree upon is that the pressure to perform or to fake any part of the Christian life will never produce the Spirit's fruit!

  5. I'm familiar with the passages you gave and I can understand why you believe the way you do. I agree that so much emphasis has been place on this one particular gift that many believers are made to feel as though their faith is inferior because they don't speak in tongues.

    I'm glad you and I agree that what is really essential is a growing relationship with a Father who invites us into a loving relationship.

    Thanks for letting me get off track. I'll hush up about tongues now so that maybe the conversation can get back on track. (I've enjoyed the off track conversation.)