“In our charade with ourselves we pretend that our war is not really war. We have changed the name of the War Department to the Defense Department and call a whole class of nuclear missiles Peace Keepers.” – Jack Kornfield
I used to play Charades with my family and friends. Hilarity ensues as without words we act out our favorite movies and TV shows. In Charades, we team up with those closest to us because we want to win. We believe their knowledge of us: our signals, unspoken signs, and mutual experiences…will easily translate to them shouting the right answers. We laugh sometimes to tears at the pantomime skills (or lack thereof) of our closest companions and wonder…what in the world are you trying to say? When we can’t decipher the answers, we blame their communication skills, but sometimes our interpretation is the real issue. Charades are fun in the living room…but a charade in real life is quite another story. A CHARADE is an absurd, deceptive, or empty act or pretense intended to create a pleasant or respectable appearance. The urban colloquialism “Faking the funk,” is used when people pretend and are not really as they seem to be. That’s our sin nature.
There are all kinds of reasons for charades. The government uses them to make awful things like war seem more palatable or useful. If we call a weapon of mass destruction a “peace keeper,” perhaps we’ll all forget its devastating power. Folks who’ve had a horrible blunder or loss, but are proud and want to save face…will profess before others that they and everything going on with them are “fine.” Some use charades for political advantage or power-brokering. The lyrics to the O’Jay’s “Backstabbers” says, “They smile in your face, all the while they wanna take your place.” Someone said, “People will stab you in the back and then ask why you are bleeding.” At one time or another all of us have experienced or participated in some sort of charade.
When David was fleeing from Saul in 1 Samuel 21, though he was a fierce warrior, he pretended to be harmlessly insane before king Achish of Gath to save his own life. Mordecai, Esther’s guardian and cousin, instructed her not to reveal her Jewish nationality or lineage when going into the harem of king Xerxes (Esther 2). He wanted to ensure she would gain entrance. Joseph behaved as if he did not recognize his brothers when they came to Egypt seeking aid in the time of famine. They bowed before him, just as he’d dreamed as a child, but instead of moving to an immediate restoration and help— he acted the villain and dealt harshly with them. Joseph devised an elaborate scheme to see his brother Benjamin and his father Jacob again.(Gen. 42) God used these charades for His purposes; that seems a little disconcerting to me.
Throughout Jesus’ ministry, religious leaders followed Him and asked questions. They pretended to be sincere, feigning support of and interest in His perspective on a number of issues in order to catch Him in error, or to criticize what He would do or say. (cf. Luke 11, 20, Matt. 22, Mark 3, 12). These charades were meant to refute Christ’s teachings, scatter His followers, discredit His reputation, and destroy His ministry. Have you come up against a charade? Have you been participating in one? This is not a game.