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Christians as Rachel Dolezal: Faking it

Does what you put on the outside transform the inside? Christians as Rachel Dolezal - Heaven Not Harvard(Last Updated On: February 26, 2017)

Rachel Dolezal’s behavior might seem confusing to us, but have you ever been around a group of people and been deeply jealous of their joy, attitude, experience, togetherness, bond? Something inside you begged to belong?

This week Facebook has again been abuzz with the scandal of Rachel Dolezal, former head of the Spokane, Washington chapter of the NAACP. She lied about not only her background, but about who she is at the core of her being. She isn’t African-American.

Her parents provided teenage pictures proving Rachel isn’t just not black, but she shares my ultra-Caucasianess. How good does a coverup have to be to change your identity? Does changing all the details change you? Many are analyzing her behavior, motivation, techniques, and even hairstyles, but the truth is – she lied and faked her African-American persona for some personal agenda.

Something about the black culture or community was attractive to her, so she learned how to fake it. She dressed and accessorized to blend in with her desired group. Then she tanned her way into passing as black. Rachel also learned everything she could about African-American hair, and was able to turn her straight blond locks into a “natural” kinky afro. (I gotta give her props on that one. I can barely get my similar hair to curl.) Does what you put on the outside transform the inside? Christians as Rachel Dolezal - Heaven Not Harvard

Stepping aside from the race/ethnicity issue, something about this story struck a chord about putting on a persona that isn’t real, which lead me to think about how much I’ve changed in the past few years since we’ve been attending this radical little rag-tag group of Jesus’ followers and how different it is from what church was for me most of my life.

Do you know any Christians playing a part like #RachelDolezal but out of touch with the Spirit? Click To Tweet

I used to attend some larger, more traditional churches in which everyone wore their Sunday best and acted like we had it all together. We talked a lot about God and Jesus and how He saved us, but we didn’t spend a lot of time on ‘from what’ or the ongoingness of the process. And I could doll myself up with the best of them. Raised in a Christian home, I know how to put on the trappings. But I was living LOST the rest of the week.

Do you know any “Christians” playing a part just like Rachel Dolezal?

They put on the appropriate attire, whether Sunday best or “witness wear”, and create this persona based on external factors instead of real change in their hearts. These cultural Christians edit their vocabulary on Sunday mornings, but don’t let God transform their minds.

They are still living too comfortably in the world to have met Jesus personally. Or are living in such sin that the Holy Spirit is entirely quenched.

1 John 2:3-6 ESV  “And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.”

They’ve learned the right things to say, the right Christian vocabulary, but they are missing the big truth of the transformative nature of the Holy Spirit. The fruit of their walk demonstrates that they are living lost. We have to walk like Jesus to demonstrate that we abide in Him.

The fruit of the Spirit demonstrates our faithfulness.

Being around joyful, spirit-filled Christians is tantalizing. When we’re lost, that assurance is so appealing. But unless you know Him, it’s just playing a part.

I spent years being Rachel Dolezal with my perfect church facade, my modest clothes, and my church vocabulary. I could win sword drills like a boss. Yet, the people around me had no idea I was DROWNING. No one seemed to talk about the realness of sin. We needed to talk about the process of cleaning it up, not just covering it up.

Rachel Dolezal spent years living as black. She had it ALL down, but no matter how hard she worked, she couldn’t change herself from the inside out. Neither can we.

That is God’s job.

After years feeling something was off, but thinking I was saved, I finally feel I’m truly being sanctified through the Holy Spirit, but it is sometimes painful to watch other Christians’ actions.

I see their language, posts on social media, and choices that are absolutely not reflective of a spiritual transformation of the heart. And realize I’m not the only Rachel Dolezal who has ever sat in the church pew playing pretend. While there is room for imperfect progress, there is a humility and gentleness to those who KNOW how deeply we need redemption.

We can't use the Bible to judge who is saved, but as a means to deal with our own brokenness. Click To Tweet

We can’t use the bible as a standard to judge someone’s salvation, only God knows the heart. What we can do is use it as a means to heal our brokenness. We find a true depth to our salvation that clearly demonstrates who we are and to Whom we belong.

Because when we take off the mask, we encourage others to do the same.

Nothing has helped me be more real than sitting in a church family who doesn’t hide behind sin, they hold it up and say, “No more! Jesus paid my debts. I’m finished with this.”

If we are doing this church thing right (no matter what we like to wear on our bodies), we’re all wearing our real faces – tempers, language, alcohol, drugs, sexual sins, pride, gossip and turning them over to God one by one. I know no matter which church I visit, I belong to the right body of believers when we are willing to own up to who we really were born as, because only God can redeem us.

And I quit being Rachel Dolezal so that I can encourage people to do the same because our victory is knowing how lost we are without God and choosing to truly belong in His family.

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34 thoughts on “Christians as Rachel Dolezal: Faking it

  1. This is an interesting story and comparison. I love the saying that we need to be ourselves because everyone else is already taken.

    1. I just see so many people playing at church, but they don’t seem to really belong to God. And I want them to know they can quit faking it any time – there is so much freedom in surrender.

  2. If we are faking our faith, we can only fake it for so long. But like you said God knows the heart and can lead those who really love him back to him and get all the fairness out, if we will let him.

    1. I lived faking it for so long, I didn’t really know I was faking it, but now I look back and realize how empty I was. Glad God didn’t let me go.

  3. Great comparison. What an emptiness must be at her core, to reject who she is in order to gain acceptance. The greatest longing of our hearts is to belong, to be accepted. The lengths to which we will go are sometimes rather painful.

  4. It can be so tempting to put on a front, but you are right that we need to be authentic. When we share the real us, we point people to Jesus.

    1. Exactly. When we cover up, people are afraid to be broken and let the healer heal.

  5. WOW! This is my first time learning about Rachel’s story. I’m going to look into it more but that’s a great illustration of what many Christians do. Thanks!

    1. Thanks! I can’t believe you’ve missed the media storm over her! It cost her her job and family.

  6. Such a good article. You are so right about church being a place where we can’t really be honest with what we are struggling with. But God is faithful! Thanks for being honest with where you’ve been. It is so refreshing! – Amy

    1. But the church should be that kind of place!

  7. I never thought of it that way – shouldn’t be about faking it ourselves in church

    1. But how many are? They attend church and yet there is no fruit in their lives.

  8. I’m very thankful for the transparency and love I have at my current church here in Alaska, but if I’m honest I’m fully aware of the need to put a hold-it-together front because when I DID come clean or confessed my struggle in a previous church, I was judged! I was ostracized. I was “that girl”. It was quite traumatic for me actually. Thank God, He loves us too much to leave us in our hurts and He taught me to forgive. Next He placed me in a body that “gets it” where we learn through life together. But this was definitely a good article, specially for us believers – before we start pointing fingers, are we running a fascade? I shared on Twitter. Thanks Jen!

    1. Oh my heart hurts to hear that! I’m sorry you went through that. I’ve been judged too.

  9. YES!!! AMEN!! Preach it, sister! I had often felt the same way. It was all just “keeping up appearances.” No one ever wanted to admit to the struggles and how hard it was to clean up from sin. How do we expect others to grow in Christ if we are not teaching them how to truly grow in Christ? Admitting your mistakes, working to fix them and change your bad habits, and moving on and then helping others with what we learned.

    1. Yep, and I saw zero growth while I tried to pretend I had it all together.

  10. It can be scary to take off that mask. But to live in the freedom of being who God has made us to be is essential in fulfilling His plans for our lives.

    1. And I’ve seen the most powerful things come from taking off that mask.

  11. I could write a book here but I won’t. Just one word “Powerful” and another one “Thanks!”

    1. I’m glad you liked it, please roam around and see if something else speaks to you.

  12. It is easy to focus on the work of religion instead of the relationship of Christ. It’s good that you saw the difference and moved past the sin of want and jealousy.

    Thanks for sharing your heart


  13. It is so easy to fall into the trap that our life and actions are good, when in reality we’re in the pit. The church needs to be 1)Honest in preaching that we sin daily and NEED Jesus every minute-not just on Sundays and 2)We need to be gracious in our response to others when they talk about their temptations and sins.

    1. Absolutely! That is exactly what I was trying to say.

  14. Great post, I have been thinking a little bit about this lady and wondering about why she would make the choices that she did. Your point that more of us are living this way each and every day that would admit it is a powerful point. I live in South Carolina and I see this all the time, and I have seen it in myself. It can be an easy trap to fall into when we are walking passively through life and not really fighting to be the people God is calling us to be.

  15. Great post! I have to be careful that my inner Pharisee doesn’t take over and that I mind myself and my heart and my walk and not focus on others! I do love that the church we are attending isn’t full of the “typical” Christians, but it took several stop overs to find it, I think I need to send up a prayer of Thanks for that! It’s a good realization to have 🙂

    1. I have to fight that Pharisee too. But I remember older, wiser people are watching me, shaking their heads at my choices sometimes too.

  16. This is why we need to remain focused on our Father… who is always the same…yesterday, today and forever!


  17. Thanks for sharing this word and that verse! So powerful

  18. Awh… thank you for sharing. Looking forward to learning from your posts. Be blessed beyond measure.

  19. the Bible says that “you shall know them by their fruits” – doesn’t matter what kind of Jesus shirt someone’s wearing 😀

    1. Yes, as I tell my bible study, if you’re an apple tree, you need to grow apples.

  20. I have heard of this but I have to admit I live in a cave so this is the first time I’m seeing pictures and BOY can she carry it off – it makes me think about they whys people do the things they do and the deep desire we all feel for love, belonging and connectedness. Yes, none of us have it together for some it shows up much more than others – I can only pray for Grace.

  21. I love the last thing you said because it is so true

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