As he walked down the street a business man was approached by a street vendor wearing a long overcoat. The street vendor stopped the business man, opened his coat and proceeded to remove fake Rolex watches from the coat’s many inside pockets. The business man, intrigued, looked over the watches, inquired as to the amount and was pleased to learn they cost only thirty dollars. With his purchase on his wrist, the business man walked away proudly sporting his “Rolex” watch.
It looked good, but there was one problem; it was a cheap fake. I once heard a preacher comment that the one real problem with Christianity was that it was too easy to fake. Like the watch it has all the glitter of the real thing, but lacks true authenticity.
Speaking with an unauthentic group of believers, Jesus said, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness” (Matthew 23:27).
Authentic Christianity is difficult. Jesus likens it to a narrow road that is both hard to travel and unpopular (Matt 7:14). It requires the determined effort to live for another, whose ways are sweet but altogether unfamiliar (John 14:5). He requires absolute devotion to Him alone (Matt 10:37). He seeks to make you into something that is altogether different from what you have been (2 Cor 5:17). He requires you to die to your ambitions and earthy desires (1 John 2:15-16). And He seeks to eradicate everything from your life in which you once found both comfort and security (1 John 5:21). Finally, recognizing that He can accomplish none of these things while you are alive, He demands that you die (Luke 9:23).
And therein lies the rub. In Luke 9:23 Jesus said to them all, “If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me.” This is what faith looks like… dying to self and living for another.
The authentic Christian however, has joyfully succumbed to this admonition of faith. He does so gladly because he knows that it is only in dying to self that he can begin to live through the power of Christ’s resurrected life (Phil 3:7-11)
The things that Jesus seeks to accomplish in our lives can never be accomplished while we are clinging to this life. Jesus taught that we cannot serve two masters; for we will hate one and love the other (Matt 6:24). If we believe in Him, let us also trust in Him and allow ourselves to die, so that He can live through us with the power of His eternal, indestructible, and holy life. Only in so doing can we know the joy, strength and hope of that eternal life He so earnestly seeks to give away.
“For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection” (Romans 6:5).