We use veneers in a number of different areas in our lives.
Dental veneers are wafer-thin, custom-made shells of tooth-colored materials designed to cover the front surface of teeth to improve their appearance.
Wood veneer is a thin decorative covering of fine wood applied to a coarser wood or other material to alter the appearance of the original piece.
Basically, veneers cover an object’s true appearance or nature. To put it quite simply – they make stuff more appealing. They dress up the outside.
What about in our Christian lives? Is there any possibility that we might ever or even regularly use a “Christian Veneer?” Remember that a veneer is an attractive appearance that covers or disguises something’s true nature.
Do you ever wear a Christian veneer?
I think there are a lot of people applying their Christian veneers daily – myself included to some degree. I think we all get a little veneer smear on us whether we want to or not – it’s hard not to.
This Christian veneer is a Biblical subject. Jesus even addresses it in Matthew 23:27 where he says, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness.”
You catch that part? He called these Pharisees whitewashed tombs. A tomb is full of nastiness, death, and decay, but the Pharisees painted the outside of their “tombs.” They veneered them. They wanted everyone to think they were following the law by playing the part and since they really weren’t living the way they should be, they put on a “Christian veneer.”
Those horrible Pharisees – I am so thankful that we are nothing like them. That would never describe us. Would it? We wouldn’t ever want to cover up our real selves just to appeal to or appease others would we?
Our Christianity couldn’t be described as a thin decorative covering used to improve our appearance or true nature, could it? Certainly not!
We know the lingo. We know how to act Christian and look Christian. We stay high-level with all of our “Christian friends.” We know how to respond with all the appropriate answers and we know what to do on Sunday, but does our Monday through Saturday life look anything like our Sunday?
Would we put on a pretty shell that disguises our true appearance?
How often do we live a life of hypocrisy? How often do we cover ourselves with this veneer?
I think we see this more and more unfortunately. Since Christianity is popular and the in-thing right now, everyone wants to look Christian, even if their real lives wouldn’t lead you to believe that they were. So, what do you do if you want to be something that you aren’t? Well, you put on a Christian veneer. Cover up your real identity.
We all have friends that live a veneered life that is not true to who they really are and we sit back and watch them lacquer it on. Eventually though, that veneer peels away and everyone gets to see them for what they truly always have been under the surface.
What about you? Are you ever afraid that your veneer is going to peel back and someone might get a sneak peek into the real you?
Why Do We Wear the Veneer?
There are many reasons we put on these veneers. Here are just a few…
- We aren’t perfect yet – We don’t want people to know what we are really like. We are embarrassed by our true identity. There are things we would like to change or know that we need to change, but we just aren’t there quite yet. So, until we are perfect in our own mind we will keep the veneer on.
- We don’t intend to change – There are also some things we know we need to change, but we don’t intend to. We willfully decide not to change them, because we don’t want to. Plain and simple – we are selfish – we are prideful. We know what we are doing or not doing isn’t right, but we “want to be happy,” so we do it anyway. We keep slapping on layer after layer of veneer and just live with a guilty (until further-seared) conscious. We want to still be able to judge others, to somehow trick ourselves into feeling good about ourselves, our own sins and imperfections. The veneer stays on.
- We don’t meet others expectations – We might be trying our best, and even feel pretty confident about our life personally, but it still isn’t good enough for people we go to church with or people we care about. We simply just don’t want to disappoint other people. We hate the thought of letting others down even if their expectations of us are unrealistic or not based on anything more than their opinion. We might even be wearing the veneer just for our family’s sake. We don’t want to fail to live up to a parent’s, or spouse’s, or even a child’s expectation of us.
- The veneer is expected and easier – Isn’t it strange to think that even though we know it is a veneer – we still expect it or maybe even desire it – because we are comfortable with it. No one really wants to take the time to uncover the potential true beauty that lies beneath. It’s easier for us to just expect a veneer from others and vice versa. There are things about us that we know people would be uncomfortable with whether right or wrong. It’s just easier to pretend the veneer is real.
- Veneers help protect – We don’t trust people – they gossip and don’t really care. Isn’t that how we feel? Isn’t that why we don’t open up to others and show them what’s under the veneer? I think this is one of the largest problems we have in the church. I know we like to pretend it isn’t, but I don’t take off my veneer, because each time I start to peel it back just a little bit… I get burnt. The veneer is a protective coating for us.
It’s sad that we allow so many others to get away with wearing their Christian veneers. Why would we do that? Especially to those that we profess to care about.
We do it, because we say that we love them and want to help them, but we really aren’t willing to invest the time and effort it takes to peel away the layers. We don’t really love them is what it boils down to. We don’t want to really know what’s under someone’s Christian veneer, because it can be very messy under that top layer.
It takes effort – a lot of effort to take off a veneer. You have to peel it back a little at a time. You can try chemicals – those don’t seem to always work. You apply moist heat – that might work a little, too. A veneer is not easy to remove. It’s gonna take a lot of good old-fashioned blood, sweat, and tears with a little elbow grease and love thrown in.
How Can We Strip Away the Veneer?
To be able to strip away the veneer in our own lives, we need to get down to the root of the issue. We need to figure out why we applied it in the first place. Once we start to do that (not that that is an easy task) then we can start stripping off the layers. Are we really living an authentic life with Christ? Are we genuine with others?
We need to remember that really – the only thing that matters is what the Lord thinks of us. I know – so much easier said than done. These veneers don’t work with God anyway. He can see right through them – to the beauty and/or the ugliness that lies beneath.
We need to work hard to live Biblically – just you and the book. Not even what other people’s interpretation of the book is. You are the one that has to answer to God for you. You’ll keep wearing the veneer if you don’t have and start living your own invested interpretation of the Bible.
Stop trying to live up to everyone else’s expectations. If others require you to wear a veneer to be close to them – you aren’t close to them any way – lose them along with the veneer.
Don’t live culturally. Don’t be tossed about by every wind or doctrine. Don’t try to be the cool Christian. Don’t follow the latest fads. Live honestly with the people around you. Be who you are. Be true to yourself. Be true to God!
Figure out what being a Christian really is – to you!
We need to be willing to help others strip away their veneer, too. Be willing to invest in someone else. We know it takes effort, lots of effort – and time. A good friend of mine said that, “Not many people want to see the “dirty” side, the real side of life as a Christian. The reality is that we all have problems of all sorts and degrees. We would all be better if we could lean on each other in an open sort of way.”
Open up to others – show them what’s underneath your veneer. Be willing to take a risk. Be willing to get hurt or be burnt. We need to be authentic with one another. If we aren’t – we won’t help each other get to Heaven – and that’s pretty much what we were created for.
We can cover ourselves up with so many layers of veneer over the years that we truly forget who we really are. But, one day we will all stand before God and He will strip away all of those layers and lay bare what we truly look like. We will either have death and decay underneath or else the veneer will just be a perfect representation of what lies beneath – our imitation of Christ.