Recognizably You

It was time (almost past time) for Sue and me to renew our passports. We decided to do our own photos and the twenty hours we put in getting it right was well worth it. That’s an exaggeration, but the fact it’s for something so important really ratcheted up the pressure.

The U.S. State Department has published helpful guidelines for what constitutes an acceptable passport photo. Here’s a partial list:

  • Have a neutral facial expression or a natural smile, with both eyes open.
  • Face the camera directly with full face in view.
  • You cannot wear glasses (some exceptions apply).
  • You cannot wear a hat or head covering (some religious exceptions apply … but it can’t obscure your face).
  • You cannot wear headphones or wireless hands-free devices. (Really? This was an issue?)
  • You can keep on your facial piercings as long as they do not hide your face

All the rules boil down to one thing … the picture you submit must be recognizably you. They want to be able to look at your picture and say, “Yep that’s you.” They don’t want a lot of visual static obscuring the real you.

Jesus had a lot to say about covering up or disguising who we really are. He called it “hypocrisy.” He called practitioners of the art “hypocrites.” The Greek word He chose referred to actors … people who assumed a character or role. Greek theater productions of the time consisted of relatively small casts with each actor playing several roles. This could be easily accomplished by using masks. An actor could simply turn around and become a different person. Did Jesus know how to choose His words or what?

Check out Matthew Chapter 6; one of Jesus’ longest discourses on hypocrisy. The problem He identified in the religious leaders of His day is that they were always cheating out. That’s another theatre term and means, “never turn your back on the audience.” Jesus repeatedly criticized the leaders for practicing their religion to “be seen by others.” Man, not God was their intended audience. They made noises that sounded like they were praising God but their goal was to be praised by others.

You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me … Matthew 15:7-8

Who’s you audience? Is the person we see on Sunday “recognizably you?”