The Impostor

Brennan Manning, the author of 17 books and itinerant Christian speaker, spent the last 40 years of his life helping others experience the reality of God’s love and grace. It was at the heart of everything he wrote about, spoke about, and endeavored to accomplish. As a recovering alcoholic, a sin he struggled with for the better part of his life, and a former Franciscan priest, his spiritual journey took him down a variety of paths. This is not to infer that alcoholism is a pathway to Spiritual enlightenment, it was just a part of the ongoing vulnerability (for whatever reason) this man chose to live with.  This, along with his relationship with God, relationships with others and his life experiences constituted the intricate weave that made up the fabric of this man’s soul.

You have probably heard many of the ministers referring to and quoting Brennan’s writings. One of the books he wrote is entitled “Abba’s Child.” The Pastor made reference to a chapter in this book entitled “The Impostor” in a sermon he preached on July 22nd which was titled “Being You: Who God Intended.”

In this blog I wanted to give you a little background about that chapter and how it related to the Pastor’s sermon. Also, I have included comments on “The Impostor” written by A.J. Moses. In A.J.’s comments he also references portions of a sermon he preached on July 15th   entitled “The Splash Pad Kingdom.” That sermon was a wonderful look into the heart of God, Who desires us to relate to Him with the same childlike attributes we possessed as small children.

Note: The following statement as quoted from “The Impostor” alludes to a dysfunctional childhood. Every one of us since Adam, Jesus included, were raised with some level of dysfunction because of sin. Jesus was not of the seed of Adam and therefore was not born with the nature of sin and consequently was never out of covenant with His Heavenly Father. Although we can’t change the experiences of our past, we can change our perspective of them. Therefore, we can either choose to become “victims” or “victors.”

These are only excerpts from the book therefore reading “Abba’s Child” will give you Brennan’s complete story of how he lost and regained his childlikeness.

“The false self was born when as children we were not loved well or were rejected or abandoned. John Bradshaw defines codependency as a disease characterized by a loss of identity. To be codependent is to be out of touch with one’s feelings, needs and desires. The impostor is the classic codependent. To gain acceptance and approval, the false (self) suppresses or camouflages feelings, making emotional honesty impossible. Living out of the false self creates a compulsive desire to present a perfect image to the public so that everybody will admire us and nobody will know us. The impostor’s life becomes a perpetual roller coaster ride of elation and depression.”

Manning, B. Abba’s Child: The Cry of the Heart for Intimate Belonging (Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.2015), 13. Parenthesis added

“The impostor prompts us to attach importance to what has no importance, clothing with a false glitter what is least substantial and turning us away from what is real. That false (self) causes us to live in a world of delusion. The impostor demands to be noticed. His cravings for compliments energizes his futile quest for carnal satisfaction. Appearances are everything.” Manning, xix.       Parentheses added

“The impostor lives in fear.” Manning, 16.

“The impostor is a liar.” Manning, 17.

“A devoted life to the cult of this shadow is what is called a life of sin.”

Thomas Merton, quoted by James Finley in Merton’s Place of Nowhere: A Search for God Through Awareness of True Self (Notre Dame, IN: Ava Maria Press, 1978). 34

One final note:

In A.J.’s thoughts on “The Impostor” he alludes to two characters in the chapter. “Carlton Hayes” is a hero type, an impostor, who is blinded by the illusion of fame. This “false self” serves to erode his intimacy with God and others. The second character is “Moe” a humble, disheveled servant, who is very comfortable in his own skin. He chooses to honor God through offering  himself as a servant to others.

Below are A.J.’s comments:

I read “The Impostor” chapter in Abba’s Child. I really like it. I can relate to the ‘Moe’ character. I feel like before this year I spent my life trying to be ‘Carlton Hayes’ and now Christ has given me the liberty to be ‘Moe’. A couple of things I took from the chapter… It helped me see Revelation through a new lens when Jesus says “depart from me you workers of iniquity – I never knew YOU”. The impostor always keeps the real “US” from being known by God. I’m not saying I have “arrived” by any means, but I feel like Jesus has revealed to me that he sees my nakedness. He always had. No matter what I have tried to cover myself with, whether it be different personalities, self-defense mechanism, or even being a husband, father, and provider. He is teaching me to see all of these roles through the lens of child-likeness now. Again, Have I arrived? NO. Am I making strides as a child? YES, and I’m having an absolute blast. The way he ends the chapter I find interesting though. His tactic for handling the “impostor” and making a change is contrary to my experience. I love Brennan Manning and I believe we are all experiencing Christ in our own ways. I know Brennan Manning was wrecked by the Spirit of Jesus and His words have helped me exponentially in my own walk. I haven’t found the grace to be friends with “the impostor” yet. I hope Jesus reveals it to me if I am looking at this wrong but the revelation and weight of what He gave me touched me so deeply, and freed me so much I really don’t want to offer my false identity a place to stay. Christ is still holding the child in Matthew 18 when He begins to rebuke the scandalizing of self. Please read Matt. 18:1-10. I realized in this revelation that the impostor has never “seen” ME correctly, and I have believed that lie all of my life (until 2018). I believe that is why Jesus is so aggressive in his speech. At whatever cost we must see ourselves as the child in Abba’s lap. I have a hard time understanding how eradicating the “impostor” is viewed as self-hatred when the impostor has lied to me the whole time about who I really am. I feel as though the impostor should have no place. I must resist him and he will flee. I don’t want to befriend him because he has scandalized me my whole life. Choosing the halt, and maimed lifestyle has been eternally wonderful for me this year. People have looked at me funny, questioned my actions, wondered why I don’t do the things I used to, respond the way I used to. I know to them it looks like I’m maimed. It looks like I’m weak, but I am dancing with one foot, turning one handed cartwheels (as Melody does), and I am seeing clearer with one eye than I ever have seen with two. There is nothing left for me to defend. My identity is the child in Abba’s lap, not the things I’ve tried to become to earn that seat.

 

Just Be What You Be

This past Sunday we had the privilege of hearing our resident evangelist, Michael Hawkins, preach a wonderful sermon, as he expounded on the familiar story of Gideon found in the 6th and 7th chapters of the Book of Judges. Michael established the premise of his message from the fundamentals of interpreting Scripture given to us by the prophet Isaiah. First he laid the  foundation of the story, that being “line upon line.” He then progressed to “precept upon precept”, the meaning of the story. Then the fulfillment of that meaning, “here a little, there a little”, was beautifully expressed through the revelation of Christ and how that pertains to our relationship with Him, as realized in our ministry to others.

Scripture initially portrays Gideon (a feller of trees) as a man with a poor self-image, oppressed by both internal and external enemies. God intentionally chooses the weak and abased things of this world so that His glory can be revealed, not only through them, but “as” them. The Lord finds Gideon consumed by his own inadequacies and speaks his destiny into existence, “calling those things which be not as though they were.” (Rom. 4:17)

Micheal, through defining the words in Judges 6:11, gave us insight into this wonderful  revelation of how God not only expresses Himself in our circumstances, but also fulfills His will through them. Paraphrasing that verse, an angel of the Lord visits Gideon who is at the wine press, a place of self-incrimination, where he is basically beating himself up. The Lord sits under an oak tree (significant of strength), which is in Ophrah, a place of dust and ash which is representative of our flesh. Joash, Gideon’s father, whose name means God fired, is an Abiezrite which can be interpreted as father of help or a surrounding of help.  God likewise comes to us through the dust of our humanity and in spite of the lies we believe about ourselves, proclaims the Truth. In v. 12 the Lord refers to Gideon as “a mighty man of valor” and in vs. 14 the Lord tells him to “go in this thy might” and deliver His people. God called Gideon what he is (now) and yet what he was to progressively become (future), thus exalting the abased through their own weaknesses.

As the story continues to unfold Gideon gradually comes to the awareness that he is actually experiencing an epiphany and honors the Lord in worship through offering a sacrifice (vs. 17-24). Likewise, we are to bring who we are (flesh), what we know (bread), and the essence of what comprises our souls (broth) and pour ourselves out on the rock which is Christ. In your humanity, empty yourself of all that you are and the fire of God (His Spirit) will consume it. Gideon then brings a second sacrifice (vs. 25-32) one that is to be offered by fire. The wood for this offering consisted of the wooden idols, the gods images, Israel was vainly worshiping.   Likewise, the Lord wants us to build an altar unto Him and relinquish any areas of our souls we have yet to surrender; our hidden agendas, destructive thoughts and latent fears. He wants to have a relationship with our humanity; it’s our sin that is reprehensible to Him.

As Gideon’s understanding of who God is continues to unfold, so does his understanding of who he is. In vs. 34 Samuel writes that “The Spirit of the Lord came upon Gideon”. The Lord put Gideon on like a coat; or the Spirit of the Lord was clothed with the humanity of Gideon. The revelation the Holy Spirit gave to Michael was that it is a fearful thing to think that our actions have now become the actions of the Christ, but in reality they have. It’s up to us whether that representation reflects the Word of God or not.

The beauty of this transformation process is that God fills all the broken places of our humanity with Himself and we, through ministry, in turn pour that essence into the broken lives of others, thus delivering them from their enemies.  This is succinctly played out in Judges Chapter 7. As Gideon’s army of 300 converged on the host of Midian he shouts “the sword of the Lord and Gideon.” (Judges  7:18) The two have now become one. We, like Gideon, can come to the place in our relationship with God that our word, who we are in our humanity, becomes the word, or sword, of the Lord.  Like Christ, wielding the two edged sword from His mouth, people are set free by the words of our mouth. The limitless God has put all of His limitations inside of us. Once we surrender, or exchange, our will for His, the limitless One can expand His presence into all of our limitations. Allow the Lord to express Himself “as” the uniqueness of your humanity. Just be what you be. Paul stated this another way in Acts 17:28 “For in Him we live and move and have our being. ”