From the DayBreaks Archive:
Matthew 25:1-12 – “1 “At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish and five were wise. 3 The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. 4 The wise, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. 5 The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep. 6 “At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’ 7 “Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. 8 The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’ 9 “‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’ 10 “But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut. 11 “Later the others also came. ‘Sir! Sir!’ they said. ‘Open the door for us!’ 12 “But he replied, ‘I tell you the truth, I don’t know you.’”
In his book, Abba’s Child, Brennan Manning describes the “impostor” – the false you and I that lives inside each one of us. Sometimes, the impostor lives more on the outside than the inside. The impostor is the phony us – how we talk and act differently in church or a crowd of Christians than when we are alone in the dark of our own minds or the dark of night. The impostor is the one who always pretends to be something he or she isn’t – whether it be self-assurance, a false projection of happiness or joy, of reverence, of caring.
In the story of the 10 virgins and the bridegroom, it is worth noting that these virgins were apparently invited to the feast. It’s not like they just showed up at the wedding feast on their own accord. So they must have been known by the bridegroom. Yet, the bridegroom says rather pointedly, “I tell you the truth, I don’t know you.” What can that possibly mean? I think it means that the behavior that he saw modeled by the foolish virgins revealed who and what they really were. Rather than being wise, loving and devoted to sharing the joy of the wedding banquet, they were shown to not really care that much about the entire event or the persons involved. Haven’t we all said to someone that we know, after being really deeply disappointed or shocked by something that they’ve done: “I don’t think I really know you anymore. You’re not yourself.” Ah – we all have a false self hiding and revealing himself!
Thomas Merton wrote: “Every one of us is shadowed by an illusory person, a false self. This is the man I want myself to be but who cannot exist, because God does not know anything about him. And to be unknown of God is altogether too much privacy. My false and private self is the one who wants to exist outside the reach of God’s will and God’s love – outside of reality and outside of life. And such a self cannot help but be an illusion. We are not very good at recognizing illusions, least of all the ones we cherish about ourselves – the ones we were born with and which feed the roots of sin. For most people in the world, there is no greater subjective reality than this false self of theirs, which cannot exist.” Manning explains: “Merton’s notion of sin focuses not primarily on individual sinful acts, but on a fundamental option for a life of pretense. ‘There can only be two basic loves’, wrote Augustine, ‘the love of God unto the forgetfulness of self, or the love of self unto the forgetfulness and denial of God.’”
We can hardly stand to be genuine. God can’t stand it when we aren’t.
Copyright 2002 by Galen C. Dalrymple. ><}}}”>
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