Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NASB)
Although I was born in the United States, I actually spent a large portion of my childhood living in other countries, first in Europe and later in Canada where my father was a pastor. I liked it that my father was a pastor, but there were certainly things that I did not like. One such aversion to my father’s role as pastor came about in the 4th grade, when to the best of my memory, I was forced to take part in the annual Christmas play at our church. I do not remember the theme of the play, only that I was allowed to choose my character, which happened to be a teddy bear.
I had only one line that year, “teddy bears too, we’re so cuddly.” Nonetheless, I still practiced that line repeatedly in the weeks leading up to the play. Then, the night before the big show, my mother received a horrible phone call from the play director. Apparently no one was able to find a teddy bear costume! In fact, the closest thing they could find to a teddy bear costume was an XXL kangaroo costume. Not only was I no longer playing the part of a bear, my lines were adjusted as well. Instead of “teddy bears too, we’re so cuddly” my lines were changed to “Kangas too, we’re so cuddly.” I was devastated.
Still, being the committed thespian that I was, and bound by the show business catchphrase “the show must go on,” I conceded to play the role of a kangaroo instead of a teddy bear. Thankfully my brown kangaroo costume was somewhat realistic. It was a one-Piece design, with a hood that resembled a big kangaroo head displaying large eyes and large ears and a long kangaroo nose. There was a large kangaroo pouch as well, and the best part was a gigantic and very realistic kangaroo tail, which in real life would be used to help a kangaroo balance during its boisterous movement. I knew that kangaroo fact, because in addition to learning my lines, I had taken the liberty to read up on Kangaroos in the encyclopedia, in order to better mimic the behavior of a real kangaroo. Despite the fact that being a teddy bear would probably be more fun, I had accepted the fact that I was no longer a bear, from this point on I was a kangaroo.
On the night of the big event, the church was packed and as the play began, I stood patiently waiting for the director to motion me forward. Then it happened, I took my cue from the director and walked to center stage where I stood behind a microphone. As the crowd of onlookers waited to hear what the kangaroo was going to say, I opened my mouth and recited my line “teddy bears too, we’re so cuddly.” When I finished reciting my line I turned to go back to my place, but before I knew what happened, the entire audience erupted in laughter. Suddenly I realized what I had done, and in a last ditch effort to save the show, I went back to the microphone and said “I mean Kangas.” This however only caused more laughter, leaving me mortified as I returned to my designated place at the back of the stage. As the play went on, I stood there feeling humiliated, forever marked as the kangaroo who thought he was a teddy bear.
30 years have passed since that catastrophic night, but I have not forgotten the powerful influence that a previously accepted narrative can have on one’s current behavior. Even at that young age, I failed to unlearn the role I had practiced in the weeks leading up to the play, and looking 100% like a kangaroo on the outside, I was still being controlled by the influence of a teddy bear on the inside. My lines had changed, my costume changed, even the way I acted changed, but there in front of the audience, I quickly forgot who I really was, and I reverted to my old self. Like me, many others have forgotten who they really are. They played a role and recited a script for so long that when they appear in front of an audience, they forget who they really are, who God created them to be. It is here where we must look in the mirror of God’s Word, lay aside the old regalia of falsehood, implant the truth of our Creator within our hearts, and never forget who we are in Christ.