From The Garden Bench - Fake
Words by David Hollows
Imagine the scene – you are in the Louvre museum in Paris and you are looking at the Mona Lisa. A whisper in your ear suggests that what you are observing is a fake. What do you think?
Would you know a fake? Have you the discerning eye for such things?
When on holiday in foreign climes there are many opportunities to buy fake objects such as watches, leather goods, jewellery and perfumes.
In our local food outlets it is easy to purchase fake meats, cheeses and sugar. You may know folks who wear fake hair and nails or have fake tan. On the international market it is possible to obtain a fake passport in order to adopt a fake identity and there is always fake news to consider every day.
Is there any reality anywhere?
Photo by Elijah O'Donnel via Unsplash
Fake faith appears in the Bible so is it possible to have a fake faith rather than a real faith?
James, the half brother of Jesus and one of the leaders of the early church In Jerusalem, writes about fake faith in his letter;
What is the use, my friends, for you to profess that you have faith if you have no works to show for it? Can such a faith save souls? If another person lacks clothes and food and one of you says to this person; keep warm and eat well, without giving the person food and clothes, what use is this?
Faith without action is useless in this and any situation.
Another person may challenge your faith; ‘you say you have faith but you do no good works whereas I have good works and faith. Now, show me your faith that I may see it for you will be able to see my faith in the good works I do.’ Are you willing to be shown that faith without actions to support others is ineffective and worthless?
- James chapter 2 verses 14 to 20 – omitting verse 19.
James is being very clear that there is a massive difference between fake and real faith because fake faith simply does not work. James explains that there are 4 ways to identify fake faith;
a) fake faith is nothing more than words; memorised or repeated prayer and using religious phrases. Jesus supports this with His comment; Not everyone who says to Me, Lord, Lord, will enter the Kingdom of God (Matthew chapter 7 verse 21a). Real faith is more than words; it is not what you say but what you do.
b) fake faith is nothing more than emotion; goose-bumps, a quiver in the liver, a warm glow these are simply emotions. Saying to a person in need; I feel for you, don’t worry, chin up, all this is worthless as there is no real solution to the issue. Offering to pray for the person is more than an emotion rather it is a practical offer of support to invite the One who can bring a solution to the situation. Real faith is practical and gets involved.
c) fake faith is often simply an opportunity for an intellectual debate about faith; to use time and energy to discuss theology, to talk about the Bible rather than do what the Bible instructs, to debate God rather than be obedient to God’s will. In the film, The Invisible Man, the only way we know he is around is when objects move. We can’t see calories in the food we eat but we can see the results of these calories in our bodies. Real faith is visible.
d) fake faith is nothing more than a truth I believe. James in verse 19 states that the Devil believes in Jesus but will never enter eternity no matter the truth which is believed. Fake faith allows us to state our belief that there is a God whose Son died for us but the statement of faith stops there it does not extend into action. Our behaviour shows what we really believe. Real faith is expressed in your actions.
Real faith is active not passive, it involves commitment, choice to be obedient to God and action. Real faith is colourless and odourless but is expressed in your lifestyle. A health warning; good works on their own will not give you salvation rather your good works will prove that you are saved and have a relationship with Jesus. Your actions and lifestyle are outcomes of your salvation.
Real faith is a faith that works when life doesn’t – so, over to you.
(The reflection above is adapted from teaching by Rick Warren)
You may find the following hymns useful; Give me the faith (Mission Praise 168) O happy day (Mission Praise 499)
You may find the following prayers helpful;
Merciful God, we have promised to be followers of Jesus yet we ask for your forgiveness for all that is in our lives that denies your promise. We are slow to care and quick to criticise, slow to love and quick to despise, slow to give and quick to take, slow to stand for justice and quick to compromise, slow to do your will and quick to follow our own desires, slow to worship you but quick to put ourselves first. Forgive us, we pray. Amen.
Generous God, you love me ‘just as I am’; no preconditions, no ifs and buts, no ‘let’s wait and see.’ So I find my life fulfilled and my hope renewed. Accepting God, you take my offered service as though my acts of obedience were worthy of your love. So I find new grace within me to give and give and give again to others.
Challenging God, you come to me and share your vision of those people I can help and love, to be your hands and your feet, your message and truth in my life. So I find myself in you and what you call me yet to be. Amen.
All that I am is yours, Lord, and all that I try to be. All that I ever hope for and all that I long to see. All that I have been, Lord, is yours and all that I did and said. All that I have planned and worked for, all that is in my heart and head. All that you are, you gave us. We give you all that we are.
God bless you
Photo by Lee Karkit via Unsplash