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Pretending is fake, is not real. Pretending is cheating someone. Those are just about the thoughts you might have upon seeing the title of this blog. But while reading "Unadulterated Christianity" by C.S. Lewis, I came to very different thoughts when I read the chapter of the same name. In it he argues that there are 2 kinds of "pretending. A bad kind, which takes the place of reality, as in someone pretending to help you instead of actually helping you. But you also have a good kind of pretending, which is a run-up to reality. And that good kind of "pretending" is extremely interesting....

The good kind of 'pretending'

What are we talking about when we talk about a good kind of pretending? Lewis then talks about acting different than you are, or normally do. And also about pretending to be different than you are. The bad way would be about exploitation and benefiting yourself. The good way is about doing better than you are and rising above yourself in spite of yourself. Just as a Christian is clothed with Christ and seen by the Father as His Son. Not because we are to the same being as Him, but because He sees us through His Son. Becoming one with Christ in sonship. Lewis uses the following (invented) story as an illustration:

A man was once given a mask to wear that made him look many times nicer. For years he had to wear that mask. And when he took it off, he noticed that his face had turned toward it. He was really nice to look at now. Something that had started as a disguise had become a reality. 



He writes: When your feelings are not particularly friendly even though you know they should be, it is often best to adopt a friendly attitude and act like a more pleasant person than you are at that moment. and as everyone has experienced, within a few minutes your feelings are then indeed friendlier than they were. The only way to get a trait into reality is very often to start acting as if you already have it.¹

This rises above good and evil, following your conscience. It is the "positive contamination" of a Person. You do it not because it is 'right' (or leave it because it is 'wrong'), but out of a desire to become like Christ. As Lewis says: The tin soldier begins to turn into a person (real life comes in). And the part that does not appreciate this is the part that is still of tin. Genesis 4:7 says: If you do good, there is cheerfulness; but if you do not do good, sin lurks at your door as an attacker, ready to seize you. Will you be able to master him?

Therefore, as far as I am concerned, a somewhat unclear (passive-making) statement is; God loves you as you are. God certainly loves you but He wants to change you precisely into who you are. can Being. In who you potentially already are, but will never become without Him. He will also change your identity. In Him we actually become new. You are even given a new name (Rev. 2:17)! This does not mean that you no longer have your own identity, or merge into something unrecognizable. No, on the contrary, it means that you become more yourself than you could ever have dreamed.

However, this is not due to your own performance, or to what or who you are now. It has everything to do with what Christ wants to do through you and how you will rise with Him. God loves the person you are going to become and who He already sees through Jesus right now. Despite your sins and despite who you are now. I would also like to point to the parable of the prodigal son: In fact, it does not mean that God loves you any less in the meantime. That you are "work in progress" and only the end result matters. No, the Father loves the son. Yes; even as a diaper-pooping-baby, a stomping-toddler, a rebellious-puber and a stuck-up-adult. But that does not mean the Father is pleased with every behavior. He is pained and saddened when the son leaves. But every day He is still on the lookout to see his return! That is His searching love for us.

So can you stay as you are? "That be far!" said Paul. But you will not change by pulling so hard on this yourself, but especially by want change. If you have a living relationship with the Son of God you will be changed by His power. With that also comes the fruit of the Spirit. A person who remains unchanged from His power is not yet in living relationship with Jesus. For, can you have a deep relationship with Jesus and still remain unchanged?

It is not your own tinkering that renews your life, but seeking friendship and fellowship with Jesus. He is going to transform your life.

Frans Horsthuis once said to me, It's not about fighting against your own nature (as many Christians seem to think), not that you make yourself a good follower. But rather that you stop doing it yourself. That you lay everything off and ask the Lord to let Him do it, precisely because you can't do it yourself. That's why Paul says he has nothing to be proud of or praised for himself. It is God in Him. Through weakness precisely strong. That is a mystery! Unfathomable, and therefore only possible by doing. It is not your own tinkering that renews your life, but seeking friendship and fellowship with Jesus. He is going to transform your life.


Rather, then, it is a metamorphosis that slowly begins to take place. A dying off of your old "I" and a change to the new "I. The new 'I' that is intimately connected to Christ. A rebirth; a new creation.



And even though this new "I" is not yet complete, we can think and act accordingly. And it turns out that in the good 'pretending' the good works through us. This is not always easy; after all, you are doing something that is not natural to you. It is a piece of "dying to yourself. Just consider when you don't like someone that much and make the choice to pretend you do like that person (in thought and action). Before you know it, you begin to develop positive feelings. The other way around is equally true; think that you don't like someone, and before you know it you are thinking the most terrible things. 2 Tim.2:16 (HSV) says: But avoid unholy, vacuous talk. For those who do so will increase more and more in wickedness. You might say, Behavior advances thoughts and feelings, but the other way around is just as true; change your behavior (by new thoughts or by starting to do) and your feelings follow.

Col. 3:7-10 You too surrendered to this at the time and lived this way. But now you too must bid farewell to all this: anger, temper, malice, swearing and foul language! And tell each other no more lies. Put off the old man with his behavior, clothe yourself with the new man, who is renewed to true understanding, in the image of his Creator.

Personal observation

An interesting personal observation you might observe during the singing/worship portion in a church service. For example, you can make God great from a perceived emotion during a worship service and reinforce this with your thoughts and behavior. For example, by singing, praying, dancing, flagging, making music, standing up, putting hands in the air or just sitting down and concentrating.

On the other hand, you can start with behavior. You can make a rational choice and "pretend. You can "know" that God is great and holy, but not "feel" it that way. But what turns out when you do decide to start honoring God with singing, cheering, jumping? The feeling follows naturally.

Even in prayer, you sometimes hear people say that it is a threshold to pray because it feels "hypocritical. By this they often refer to an experienced separation from God. There is a blockage because one does not feel close to God. Unless there is a life of conscious sin, this is a self-perpetuating situation. A so-called vicious circle. And how can it be broken? By not listening to your feelings, but by starting to do what you would do in your new identity, your new behavior and new clothing ("Christ's garment"). So pray! And what will transpire? Your prayer will bring you closer to God again, even with your feelings.

In closing, I would say: If you are not as you should be, pretend you are. Before you know it, you'll be a different person. 


  1. From: Unadulterated Christianity, C.S. Lewis, 2003, P.182


Erwin de Ruiter

"One man tries to express himself in books, another in boots; both are likely to fail." - G.K. Chesterton

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