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Saturday, 10 October 2015

Genuine - or imitation?!

Today, along with my wife and a number of other people, I attended a seminar on the Persecuted Church, organised by L'Église Évangélique Libre de Bergerac with the organisation Portes Ouvertes (the French 'branch' of Open Doors - founded by Brother Andrew).  It was a very interesting, if sometimes harrowing, time as we heard, by video, from some of those who have suffered greatly for the sake of the Lord Jesus.

In our new home in Gardonne, awaiting a place to be hung, is a painting by the great French artist, Monet.  Well, it would be very nice if it was a genuine Monet.  Such paintings sell at auction for millions of pounds sterling.  Ours is actually just a print - and worth less than the frame that contains it!  The genuine article is seen, by those who can afford the vast sums involved, as an investment.  Our print, being just a copy, is certainly not investment material!

There is, I would suggest, a parallel in the spiritual realm.  The world is filled with 'religion', and Christianity is, numerically, the numerically largest such group.  Many people talk about Jesus (to one another!); insist on 'clean living'; carry a Bible; and attend worship services in a local church building.  But, like our Monet, they are not the real thing.  They are only pretenders.

The beloved disciple, John, in his first pastoral letter, gives three marks of a true disciple of Jesus.  The first of these is obedience: "And by this we may be sure that we know Him, if we keep His commandments." (2:3).   Secondly, a true disciple will display genuine love for fellow-believers: "He who loves his brother abides in the light, ..." (2:10).  The third mark given by the apostle is love for God, and not for the world: "Do not love the world or the things in the world. If any one loves the world, love for the Father is not in him.  For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life, is not of the Father but is of the world.  And the world passes away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides for ever." (2:15-17).  If such qualities are not seen, consistently, in our lives, then we may need to examine our faith to check that it is genuine!

Those who suffer, as so many do, for the sake of the Lord Jesus are the real thing.  One would have to be, in order to remain constant and true.  Let those of us who live in the still relatively-safe 'western world' ensure that we, too, are true followers of Jesus - and not just imitations!

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