“Remember the Scripture that says, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him do it legally, giving her divorce papers and her legal rights’? Too many of you are using that as a cover for selfishness and whim, pretending to be righteous just because you are ‘legal.’ Please, no more pretending. If you divorce your wife, you’re responsible for making her an adulteress (unless she has already made herself that by sexual promiscuity). And if you marry such a divorced adulteress, you’re automatically an adulterer yourself. You can’t use legal cover to mask a moral failure.” (Matt 5:31-32, NIV2)
Pretense is everywhere. In Japan, for example, you can hire someone to be your friend or your mother. This doesn’t really make them a friend or a mom. It’s all pretense!
This becomes far worse when our pretense is based on selfishness. We may pretend to be a friend of God, but that doesn’t mean we are one: “By their fruit you will recognize them.” (Matt 7:16a, NIV2)
Let us not be deceived. Being within the bounds of the law doesn’t mean anything. I have met many outgoing leaders who seem so friendly, but whose employees despise them. Pretense can be completely bogus.
All of us need to spend time in self-reflection. We need prayer to find any false pretenses that are lurking in our lives. Only One never ever pretended to be someone else, and He is the One I want to follow at all cost: Jesus the Christ.
We are not here to fulfill our own desires. We are here to shine, love and care for everyone we encounter, just like Jesus did. Does selfish divorce fit that bill?
In 1828, many people were enrolled to help build a canal around one of the falls in Bolivia. Three boats were hired to transport the workers. The second boat to leave from Pennsylvania was not what it pretended to be: The Metropolis. No one knew that this ship was the former Stars and Stripes, who had experienced lots of warfare from New York to Cuba. It was listed to have been built nine years after its involvement in the combat of Roanoke Island. The ship was too old, too unreliable and too poorly powered to carry this massive workforce. No one even knew that it had been turned down as a coastal freight hauler. Still, it left with all its priceless cargo of human lives.
Shortly after its departure, the Metropolis, or should I say the Stars and Stripes’, engines were laboring heavily. The First engineer soon discovered a leak near the rudder post, and before anyone knew it, water rose to waist deep. They had no choice but to engage all passengers with the task of throwing the cargo overboard. This job lasted until well past midnight, and everyone was dead tired.
Unfortunately, even after throwing more than 50 tons of cargo overboard, the water still rose and the engines had more and more trouble. Sadly, the captain did not want to go to Hampton Roads for repairs, for it would mean a small detour.
The fatal blow came when a huge wave washed over the ship. The smokestacks, most of the lifeboats, the steam whistle, the engine room ventilators, and many other important parts of the boat were washed overboard. What was worse, however, is that the wave completely drowned the engine fires, leaving the boat without power.
As the boat was not too far from the North Carolina coast, the first mate and two others jumped into the ocean and swam ashore. Had everyone followed their example, they would have all been saved, as the tide was low.
Meanwhile, the coastguard from Station Number four came for the rescue. Unfortunately their equipment weighed over 1000 pounds, and they had miles to go on a beach littered with debris. Eventually they became so tired that it took too much time to come to the aid of the passengers. Around noon, they were finally close enough to fire a line aboard the wreck. However, no one on board knew how to secure the line!
The quartermaster decided to swim with a line to the beach. He was courageous, but the water was too tumultuous, and he sank.
The mainmasts fell next, and the ship started to break into pieces. Everyone had no choice but to swim. Some were driven farther and farther away from the beach due to the currants. Only some made it to shore.
85 people died that day, all because the boat pretended to be better than it was. Pretense is truly deadly!
Only three people called themselves lucky. These three had decided not to go on that boat at the very last moment:The foreman who decided he couldn’t leave his wife alone; The engineer, whose luggage had not arrived on time; and Thomas Collins, the one who had hired the boat in the first place, who decide to take the next boat with his wife, as there were way too many passengers on board this one.
Would you like to go on a boat like this? It may be the adventure of a lifetime!
P. S. I hope you can swim well! As for me, I have decided to stay ashore. Forget pretense!
(To access the entire “Majestic Mountain View” devotional series, please click here.)