So many of our problems arise simply from people pretending and acting.Charlie Chaplin was once on holiday in Europe in the early 1920s. There happened to be a "Charlie Chaplin look-a-like competition" nearby on the beach so, despite protestations, his wife persuaded him to enter ... and he came third! Two men with canes and moustaches looked more like Charlie Chaplin than did the real Charlie Chaplin!
While it is easy to make fun of such stories, we are often the same: it is dangerous to think in terms of caricatures, we look at the outside rather than at the interior. It was similar for Jesus: his way of prayer was so different to what His disciples expected to see that they even had to ask him how to pray: they knew it was prayer because Jesus said it was, but it did not conform to the patterns set by those who liked to be thought of as ‘holy’. The disciples saw the difference between Jesus’ way of prayer and caricature of holiness set by the Sanhedrin, and found it incomprehensible.
Again, look at the words we use in our prayers: look at their number and intonation. And, anyway, who is this show for? It is unlikely to be for God because we pray differently in private; perhaps we should rather concentrate on our inner intention. Would we pray like that in our locked room?
Occasionally we do need to be careful about appearances. The obvious examples relate to when we have dealings with ‘the world’ who will start to judge us with a single glance. It is good to avoid appearing worldly before the eyes of the world but it is just as important not to want to appear Holy before the church. Being Holy should occupy all our strength, so that there is no energy left over with which to think of appearances: God said ‘be Holy’ but he never said that we ought to ‘appear to be Holy’.
The ultimate example of appearances is the cross, which illustrates the dangers of appearances getting out of hand: Jesus was condemned to death by the custodians of the Jewish faith who thought that their observances and their way of living was closer to God’s heart than was that of Jesus. The Jews put God on a cross because God was perceived to be blasphemous, that is, they thought that God was living and speaking against God! We must be real and not a caricature