Scripture: 1 Peter 1:6-9 & Isaiah 36:18-20
Let’s go to New York City and see Van Gogh’s Starry Night. We could then fly to Paris and see Leonardo’s Mona Lisa and some of Claude Monet’s Water Lilies. Skyline to Madrid and check out Picasso’s Guernica. Might as well have supper with Jesus in Milan and go see God do His thing on the ceiling in The Creation of Adam at the Sistine Chapel. Whiz into the windy city and end this voyage with some American Gothic.
There is just something special about the real thing; authentic, genuine, uncompromised, in its original form. There is only one Mona Lisa – and if it were for sale; which it isn’t, we could start the auction at 750 million dollars and the bids could easily reach ten figures. But I don’t have to wait for the Mona Lisa to go to auction. I could go online today and order a poster size copy for $3, If I am really ambitious I could spend $350 and get a reproduction in oil paints on a canvas just like Leo used. For another $150 I could have this work of art framed in a hand carved custom setup. Lastly glue and lots of it, I think I have enough in the garage to do what I want to do here. There we go, for less than the cost of a ticket to Paris, I could get a high quality reproduction delivered to my door, framed and glued to the ceiling above my bed. Why above the bed? Only so it’s the first thing I see when I wake up in the morning because I am so proud of it, my very own Mona Lisa. What’s the difference? A painting is a painting right?
We do the same thing though. We settle for the likeness of righteousness instead of true righteousness. We fabricate for ourselves a floppy faith that is really of little or no value. We Decide we believe in three gods, the good God, the Thumb-pressor, and self as God. When we go through hard times in life, it must be because God is punishing me, or something that has to do with me. Many run away from God, or quit on faith when tough times come. But the Word says in 1 Peter 1:7 – “These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire – may result in praise, glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed.” So when we suffer because of our faith, the genuineness of our faith is proven. When our life in in danger, we can have faith in God and expect eternal salvation with Him, or cripple trying to save that which is perishable – life on earth. During the hardest times, our faith’s character and focal point come into focus. But we don’t like hard times, so we settle for resemblance of faith. We learn the lingo and pretend it’s all good. We say ‘I’ll pray about it.’ as an excuse for ‘let me think about how I will tactfully say no and stroke my fear of man.’
Just about anyone who wants to invest a little bit can have a spot on Mona-Lisa reproduction hanging in their home, but they could never call it the real deal. Likewise – The resemblance of faith is no good if our image of God and His promises become shattered when life throws us a sinker. The value of our faith is greater than that of the Worlds most protected treasures – But it’s attainment has been made available for all; and it’s value is found in the toughest of times.
In Isaiah we saw this. The Assyrians were a bit over confident – they thought no other God could save the other countries we conquered, what makes this any different. They didn’t boast in their Gods, but in their selves. They mocked God and even blasphemed Him. But the proving was this – There is only one true God and one true faith, and that is in the God who saves. Who cares if you’ve amassed for yourself a bunch of reproduction Mona-Lisa’s; You just met the real deal, and soon enough you will have to give account for your words face to face with Him.
I have found that the reproduction faith is floppy and no different from any other. Every hard time, every challenge is an opportunity to grow in authenticity as we believe in a God we might not always see moving, trusting that He is.