Growing up in the late 80s, there were two words that embodied the meaning of fatherhood to me, HEATHCLIFF HUXTABLE. Every Thursday night, I would expeditiously finish my dinner, clean dishes, finish homework, and sink myself into my little divot in the sofa. The television would already be turned on and tuned in to the opening credits of, The Cosby Show. The opening credits were a huge deal at the beginning of the season because the theme would always change. One year, they could be lively, indigenous people dancing in a Caribbean oasis. The next year, they could be sleek band of jazz sophisticates getting ready for a night on the town.
What really made the show was the depiction of the world’s most loveable dad, Heathcliff, portrayed by comedy legend, Bill Cosby. Cliff, as he was called, was the quintessential father figure. He was caring, like when he helped Denise’s friend when she had a potential STD scare. He was a no-nonsense-dad, as he betrayed in his famous line to Theo, “I brought you into this world and I’ll take you out”. He was funny and engaging, like when he hosted Rudy’s birthday party with a group of her precocious little friends. And he was lovingly faithful to his wife, Claire, who he danced and romanced through every season. Did I mention he was a rich doctor??
My admiration only deepened as I watched and read interviews confirming that the fictional Cliff had much in common with the real like Bill. And in fact, the show was created based of his experiences with his family. The world’s most loveable dad being portrayed by the world’s most loveable dad. I was delighted to be adopted into his TV family for 30 min every Thursday night.
My sentiments remained the same for a long time, that is, until high school. Scandal broke out on every news station after accusations emerged about Cosby fathering a child from an extra-marital affair. At first, I was totally defensive, assuming this falsehood was only an attempt to mar my dad’s…I mean an innocent man’s reputation. I was devastated when I read of his confession, that he had been unfaithful. And as we’ve learned in the last few years, this was more of the norm rather than the exception.
My Cosby world came crumbling down around me. It was never real. It was never true. He was just putting on an act. I suppose it was easy for me to think badly of Cosby when I was young. But after living a little longer and growing a little more aware of myself, I realized I have often done the same thing. Not the adultery, but the putting on the act. During my life before (and sometimes after) becoming a Christian, it was always easy to put on the “good girl” act. Say the right things, remember your manners, look pleasant, and, oh right, don’t get pregnant. The problem was that once I became a Christian, I began to realize that putting on my act meant nothing to God. He was more interested in what I was putting to death first. Colossians 3:5-10 reads:
Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.
I was starting to learn that there was a big difference between putting on the act of being pure by not having sex before marriage and putting to death the impurity that raged in my mind and actions. Not cursing people out was not the same as putting away malice and wrath in my heart against them. For God, it wasn’t enough for me to look the part. I needed to be it from the inside. A Ming vase full of waste is just a trashcan until you empty it out. That’s what God wanted to me to do; to empty out all my inner trash at the foot of the cross so it could be swept clean away. Then there would be room to fill me up with a new self, being constantly renewed to be more and more like God. I guess Hollywood is partially right. It is all about image. But it’s about putting to death who I used to be in order to better reflect the image of Him who made me.
Words for Syncing
Sync a little deeper…
Why do some many people (including Christians) find it easy to “put on an act”?
What act are you putting on in your life?
What old self should you be putting off instead?
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