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Thursday, July 4, 2013

Counterfeit or real?

Counterfeit - not genuine; purposely set forth so as to look like the original, but pretend in all ways.  Wow!  I have to ask myself how many times I have put forth "counterfeit" love - you know, the kind where I tell someone something, but I honestly mean something quite different from what I tell them!  I think there are times when we are just not honest with ourselves, let alone others.  We put up a good front, for one reason or another, but really it is still a "front" - it is pretend.  The problem with "pretend" is not in the amount of sincerity behind the "front", but in the intense work it takes to maintain the front!

The whole point of what we’re urging is simply love—love uncontaminated by self-interest and counterfeit faith, a life open to God. Those who fail to keep to this point soon wander off into cul-de-sacs of gossip. They set themselves up as experts on religious issues, but haven’t the remotest idea of what they’re holding forth with such imposing eloquence.  (I Timothy 1:5-7 MSG)

Paul writes to Timothy, encouraging him to live a life "out in the open" - not holding out some "imposing" and "impossible" lifestyle of "faith" like the religious leaders of the day had done for quite some time.  The idea of genuineness, even when it came to admitting one's failures, was almost foreign to a truly "religious" person of the day.  Paul's idea of not being "counterfeit" is really a term quite similar to being "two-faced" - behaving one way out in the open, another behind closed doors.  Look at what he says about the one who chooses to live a "counterfeit" life:  They wander off into cul-de-sacs!  Do you know what a cul-de-sac really is?  It is a situation in which no further progress can be made!  So, Paul's instruction is designed to keep Timothy from facing dead-ends in his life!

Truth be told, we all need to hear how it is we live above "dead-ends", don't we?  We have a tendency to head into places which seem okay for the moment, but we soon find they are really avenues where we can no longer make any progress in our lives simply because we are boxed in by the limitations of our choices!  Paul tells us as long as our focus is off of ourselves, with our lives lived out in the open, we should be able to avoid some of these "wrong turns".  

I know there are times when I have chosen a "wrong turn" in life, then found ways to blame others for the turn I clearly took!  If you have tried the same, you are probably in good company - for a lot of us venture into the "convenience" of shifting the blame for our bad decisions to another on occasion.  I think we do this because it helps us with our "front" - we take the focus off of us, so we might keep the appearance of "being okay".  Whenever we work so hard to maintain the "appearance" of being okay, we are presenting an impossible "religious front" - a counterfeit to the real.  It becomes an "imposing" lifestyle which makes it seem impossible for others to ever attain themselves.

When we are not real with others, we are presenting an image of God's love which may make it just too hard for others to grab hold of.  You see, most people look to God's kids to display God's love and to connect his grace and love to our needs in life.  He made us for this purpose.  Whenever we display an image of being "perfect" all the time, others see only the "perfection" we display and not the true tragedies of life which are brewing just beneath the surface.  Those tragedies, and how God works within them to bring us out of them, are what connect others to the love and grace of God.  

Real people attract other real people - with real life issues, real life tragedies of their own.  Real people connect other real people to the resources of God's love, grace, and peace.  Real people spot the counterfeit a mile off.  They become good judges of the real!  Just sayin!