Counterfeit religion is not in short supply. Too many church-goers have been tricked into believing that they are going to Heaven because they do good works or fake behaviors that deceive. They are in trouble. There is no relationship with God. There is no “new creation” after they claim they accepted Jesus into their lives. There is no fruit blooming as a demonstration to others that they have matured in their walk with the Lord.
Oh, they go through the motions. They take brownies to an ailing neighbor. They bow their heads in prayer and are slightly bothered when someone takes God’s name in vain. They promise to pray for hurting friends and volunteer at the church food bank. Their Bibles lie open on their coffee tables, and they host prayer groups in their homes. Still, no heart change exists. There is no desire to become holy, even though 1 Peter 1:16b makes no bones about it when he repeats what God told the Israelites: You shall be holy, for I am holy.
Before you decide to throw in the spiritual towel, please know this: A pretend Christian is not a struggling Christian. The latter describes every one of us; we all sin and mess up. (Thank you, Jesus, that I’m not alone in this.)
But notice the clarity of God’s demand. There is no “consider holiness” or “think about acting holy” or “hope you find holiness before you die.” No such luck. God wants more. You. Shall. Be. Holy…
If you’re like me, you’re squirming. Wouldn’t it be better if we were told just to “try a little harder” or “be nice” or “figure out a way to make people like you”? Asking us to be “HOLY” seems a little too much, don’t you think?
Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter what we think. It matters what God thinks, and that is the goal He has set for each of us. We must pray for God to help us resist temptation and choose purity, ask the Holy Spirit to reveal areas where we are displeasing our Creator, and study the Bible to know what is expected.
Counterfeit/pretend religion deceives. It keeps us in acting mode. We play the part well, while hiding the real us from others.
- Our Cheshire grins, saved for neighbors or pew-mates, belie the alley-cat fights dominating our homelife.
- A daily fix of Facebook draws us into quarrels as passions are ignited over differing political opinions or self-righteous, judgmental calls.
- We belt out “Amazing Grace” from the first row of pews but once inside our car, tune our radios to secular music about sex and booze.
- We cry out to God when an emergency arises but completely ignore Him once our prayers are answered.
Counterfeit Christians want the most of God with the least effort. They desire to keep one foot in their daily pleasures and one foot in spiritual considerations. James 4:4 addresses such a contradiction: Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
Our goal needs to be to draw closer to God. But here’s the awesome part—that’s God’s goal too! He is waiting with open arms for us to ask for His help to make us holy. We are not left floundering, hoping we get smacked upside our heads with a halo. All we have to do is ask with a sincere heart, “Heavenly Father, please teach me how to be holy.” That’s my prayer. I hope it’s yours too.