For over 20 years, William “Eddy” McMullen served as an assistant coach at Old Colony High School in New Bedford, Massachusetts. The head coach and the student athletes were thrilled to have him coaching football at Old Colony. After all, Eddy was a former Notre Dame running back and a Heisman trophy finalist in 1966, who then went on to play for the Detroit Lions in the National Football League.
For 20 years, nobody knew the truth about McMullen. And what was the truth? That he was an imposter. His ruse would have continued if he hadn’t agreed to meet with a fan who knew the real Eddy, a man who knew the football star when McMullen played for Notre Dame. One look and the fan realized that this fellow claiming to be McMullen was in reality a pretender. The real Eddy is six feet two inches tall and weighs 200-pounds plus, while the impostor stood five feet seven inches tall and weighed 160 pounds.
The fan telephoned the real Eddy McMullen, who then called the charlatan and urged him to come clean. McMullen told the man he was willing to forgive him, while the imposter admitted he was actually relieved he no longer had to be constantly worried that someone was going to find out his true identity.
Friends, even though we may not be trying to impersonate another individual, many of us do worry that people might find out “who we really are.” Some folks expend great energy making sure that no one ever gets to see them before they are properly dressed and “made up” for the day. Other people have bad habits or “secret sins” that they try to make sure no one ever learns about. Sometimes we are embarrassed about different aspects of our lives (e.g. our family background, how much money we earn, failure to achieve goals at work or school, even friendships we may have) and do our best to hide the truth from others. For various reasons, there is often a significant gap between who we really are and who other people think we are.
We should not pretend to be someone we are not. Our efforts to hide the truth about ourselves from others are usually nothing but lies and deceptions. In Ephesians 4:25 the Lord says, “each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor.” If we stop trying to pretend, if we allow people to see us more as we really are, there will probably be some people who will like us and others who won’t. Yet most importantly, as Christians there is no reason to pretend to be someone we are not. The Lord knows everything about us, including our deepest, darkest secrets, yet loves us just as we are. No, he does not approve of our wrong behavior, but through Jesus he graciously forgives our sins and accepts us as his beloved children. Because of this, no matter who we are, there is no reason to pretend we are someone else.
Yours, thankful for the gracious love of God,
Rev. Dan Erickson
Senior Pastor, Chisholm Baptist Church