Book Review- TrueFaced: trust God and others with who you really are

Where has TrueFaced been all these years since being published in 2004? I wish I had read it then, and several times since. Written by Bill Thrall, Bruce McNicol, and John Lynch, TrueFaced is an authentic exploration of practical theology concerning living by grace. It calls  believers to set aside masks which hide their real selves. On the book cover Shakespeare is quoted as saying, “God hath given you one face, and you make for yourselves another.” Indeed, that sums up the problem. The authors bravely excavate the human heart which attempts to protect itself from discovery. They offer a better way, if only we believe it is possible. Grace.

Divided into six chapters, TrueFaced addresses the topic as follows:

  1. Keeping Up Appearances.
  2. To Please or to Trust?
  3. Grace Works!
  4. The Supreme Gift of Grace: Love
  5. The Sweetest Gift of Grace: Repentance
  6. The Most Mysterious Gift of Grace: Forgiveness
  7. Maturing into God’s Dreams for You

Their presentation is not a fadish new paradigm of self-help pop-psychology; it is biblically rooted, pastorally relational, and it offers a way of living in liberty as our real selves in relationship to God and each other. Isn’t that something worth exploring more deeply?

We desperately want connection but we fear revealing our true selves because we do not want others to be utterly disappointed with us. So, we construct masks which we perceive others desire to see. And perhaps they they can be convinced that we have it together for awhile. But, God is not fooled, and neither are those closest to us. As the masks become more complex the burden of maintaining their appearance weighs heavily, causing us to withdraw all the more from others so they do not “out” us. Who are we kidding? Is this the kind of life we really want? Or would we rather live in liberty?

Liberty, however, is risky. It means dealing with that one thing that brings the most shame: sin. We all suffer from it, although few admit it openly. So, we live in a paradigm of trying to please each other, and worse, trying to please God. In other words, we try to act like good persons who do good things and who exhibit good attitudes while stuffing the sin stuff down deeply inside so no one else can see it. And it escapes anyway, eventually exposing our masks for what they are. Our works-based theology is seen for what it is. And our personal righteousness is exposed as filthy rags fit only to be discarded. It leaves us in the ashes of despair and disillusionment after all those years of play-acting.

But there is an alternative. Trust in God and his righteousness through the person and work of Jesus Christ. In this paradigm grace enters the relationship. Our righteousness is actually Christ’s righteousness imputed to us so that we have liberty simply to trust God and walk in that trust. We have freedom to risk confessing our sins, rather than hiding them. We have freedom to fall on the mercy of God, rather than the burden of being judged on the basis of trying to please him through our own inadequate works of righteousness.

I highly recommend TrueFaced to any person who wishes to deal honestly with who they really are, and to set aside the masks which prevent them from moving into liberty which is only found in Jesus Christ. If you want deliverance from bondage to works-based theology and habitual patterns of sin, this book will give you good initial guidance for setting yourself on the right path. But do not try to navigate that path alone, as books so often tempt us to do. Invite grace-filled friends to walk with you on the journey.

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