Will the real ME please stand up?
by Kristen Young
Are there different versions of You? Maybe there’s School You: you’re polite and obedient to teachers, then complain about them in the playground.
Perhaps the Friend You is different again – maybe you feel like you need to prove that you’re not boring or “too good” to the other people in your class so you swear and talk like them.
Then there’s the Family You at home – do you retreat to your room so you don’t get the inquisition from your family, or do you politely talk about nothing with your parents so they don’t ask too many questions about the Friend You? But when it’s Church You, do you know exactly what your youth leaders want to hear, so you give them all the right answers?
Let’s cut to the chase: God knows all about the different versions of You that you put out there. He knows if you’re being honest or not.
You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar (Psalm 139:1-2)
Before you totally freak out, it’s actually a good thing that God knows you. Why? Here are a few things to know:
1. You don’t have to pretend in front of God
God knows more about you than you do. So you don’t have to pretend to be someone you’re not. You can relax. Are you exhausted by all the different versions of You? Chill out with God. Tell him your struggle. He knows.
2. God loves you, even if he knows you’re not being honest
We can relax because God loves us, despite our game-playing and “fakery”. You might stress about your friends, “If they really knew who I was, they wouldn’t like me” – but that’s not a question you need to ask about God. God loves you even though he already knows all the worst stuff about you. It doesn’t mean it’s suddenly okay to play the game, but it does mean that God’s love isn’t dependent on being Church You all the time.
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us (1 John 3:16)
3. Because God loves you, he doesn’t want you to be trapped in “the game”
God knows about the worst versions of You, but he loves you too much to let you be trapped. Being a different You all the time is a trap, isn’t it? It’s exhausting. It’s confusing. You know it’s dishonest and it can make you feel guilty, ashamed, or stressed out that someone’s going to find out the truth. God knows. God loves. But he also saves.
But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved (Ephesians 2:4-5)
Dishonesty and game-playing are part of our rebellion against God. But God doesn’t want us to stay trapped in the game. He knows, and He loves, and He saves. He wants us to follow Jesus, and through him live new lives, no longer trapped, but free.
4. You are free to be the Real, Redeemed You
Jesus died to save us from all our sin and wrong – not just the trap of pretending to be different versions of You. Through Jesus, you can be the Redeemed You that God made you to be.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! (2 Corinthians 5:17)
Through Jesus you are freed from the pretending, fake Yous that try so hard to fit in or be liked or have the right kind of reputation. You are free to be the saved, redeemed, new creation you are in Christ.
You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love (Galatians 5:13)
The Redeemed You is able to love others properly because you don’t have to perform. You don’t have to be trapped by what other people think of you. You can just love people even when they’re not perfect, because that’s what God has done for you. You can serve people because you don’t have to compete to have the best reputation. You can be yourself because even if other people don’t accept you, through Jesus you are loved and accepted by the One who really matters.