“Do you want a real one or a fake one?”
My first thought was that, of course, I want real. Doesn’t everybody? Ladies would prefer real diamonds to artificial, right? We’d all rather have genuine $100 bills than counterfeit. Who wants fake anything? Give me the real deal.
In this case, though, once the clerk explained what he meant, I chose the fake one. I was shopping for a black bow tie my son had to have for a school-related event. And, it turns out that a “real” bow tie, according this clerk, is one that you have to tie yourself.
Somehow, I didn’t think that it would strengthen our father–son relationship for me to be wrapping a strip of cloth around the kid’s neck, trying to tie a knot that neither us knew how to do. So, I went with the “fake” one. It came already tied. All you have to do is wrap the strap around your neck and hook it. Nice and easy. No bother and no stress trying to get the knot just right at the last minute.
How does that tie in to religion? Sometimes we are tempted to dress up in fake religion instead of the real thing. Just like with bow ties, fake religion is easier, and it still looks pretty good to the casual observer.
It is much easier to claim to follow Christ than it is to actually carry a cross. It is easier to sit in church than it is to be actively part of the church. It is easier to build a beautiful building than to build up people. It is always easier to listen politely to a sermon (or preach one) than to passionately live it.
Fake faith, however, is deadly. Some of Jesus’ harshest warnings were to those who were faking it – “hypocrites,” he called them. “These people say that they honor me, but they don’t make me an important part of their lives,” he complained, and the result he said is that, “Their worship of me is worthless (Matthew 15:9, NCV).
Fake faith is easy. But it’s worthless. It looks nice, but it doesn’t fool God, and it doesn’t help the wearer.
Real faith takes work. You must tie it yourself. But real religion pleases the Father, and prepares the child.
With formal wear, fake is fine. With forever where, make sure you have the real thing.