In the world of merchandise, you’ll often find products that are designed to imitate the real thing. There is plastic decking that looks like real wood. Visit any home improvement store and you will find vinyl flooring that appears at first glance to be ceramic tile. You can purchase fake fur, fake jewelry, fake hair, all designed to imitate the real thing. But perhaps among the most strange of these imitation items that I’ve come across is, believe it or not, a product called “Spray-On Mud.” It is designed for use on the outside of your truck or SUV. That way, it appears you use your expensive four-wheel drive vehicle for more than simply taking the kids to soccer practice. Simply take a can and spray it on and friends might think you’ve just returned from an off road adventure.
There are many expressions of imitation Christianity that people often try to pass off as the real thing. Much of modern Christianity in our generation seems to come right out of a can. Good wishes can be mistaken for prayer. Success can be misconstrued as spiritual achievement. Inspirational bumper stickers and symbols can be seen as evangelism. Excellent music and atmospherics can cover for authentic worship of the heart. Humorous or emotional stories can pass for true preaching. Crowds of people on a Sunday morning can pass for a true church. Christian clichés can be handed out as biblical wisdom. An attractive personality can be mistaken for a Spirit-filled life.
On more than one occasion in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus warns us against the subtle dangers of a thing called hypocrisy. He warns us against giving to be seen by others, praying to be heard by others, and fasting to appear more righteous than others. Hypocrisy is like Spray-On Mud. It looks like the real thing at first glance, but it doesn’t hold up under divine scrutiny.
Don’t make the mistake of accepting a cheap imitation of the real thing. Do you want to know what authentic Christianity looks like? To put it plain and simple, it looks like Jesus.
For more, read Matthew 6:1-34