One of the realities of living in our world is dealing with imitations.
Often, imitations are merely benign alternatives to an original recipe . . . things like:
- The generic “Dr. Thunder” as a cheaper alternative to Dr. Pepper.
- The Knights of the Roundtable clothing label as a less expensive Polo.
- (or my personal favorite) “Stars and Bucks” Coffee shop that I saw in Bethlehem in the West Bank (since it seems Starbucks has not yet expanded to that region!)
These copies are harmless . . . or even beneficial, providing clothing and soft drinks at more affordable prices.
However, not all imitations are as pain free:
- I have a friend who received a counterfeit hundred dollar bill at his garage sale.
- I know many who have been solicited over the phone or by email from someone pretending to be the Social Security Administration or a Utility Company, requesting personal information so they can “help” you.
In these instances, great harm comes from the imposter . . . who looks friendly, but actually is up to no good.
In the first century, Jesus (the authentic Son of God) came into the world to seek and to save the lost. Upon His arrival, Jesus encounters a brand of imitation religiosity that filled the cup and clothed the bodies of many of His fellow countrymen. Having a form of “godliness” these contemporaries to Jesus practiced a religion with great pomp and circumstance, but upon further examination, they were exposed as a self-righteous imitation of genuine faith. To make matters worse, the nature of their counterfeit put themselves (and those under their care) at risk of great harm when judgment would come. Because Jesus cared for these people, and because He wanted to give them a chance to repent, He spoke forcefully and directly about their condition and where it was headed.
Though we live 2,000 years later, nothing has changed about the human condition. People today are just as sinful as they were 2,000 years ago, AND religious people today are just as capable to dealing in imitations than professing an authentic faith.
What makes the difference between imitation religion and authentic faith in God? How can we pursue authenticity in our relationship with God . . . and what is at stake?
These are just a few of the questions we will be tackling in part 2 of our “Authentic” sermon series this Sunday at Wildwood Community Church. We will be looking at Matthew 21:18-22, 28-32. We look forward to seeing you Sunday in our 9:45 or 11:00 service.