Cheap Imitations

This morning, I was reading an article about pilsner beers in the latest issue of All About Beer magazine. It’s actually a fascinating read on the incredible history of this beverage.

It appears that when the pilsner first hit the scene, it truly captivated the world. It was something new, something refreshing, something different, something wonderful.

Then, as one would almost expect, the pilsner had its name dragged through the mud as numerous sub-standard, cheap imitations began to hit the scene.

These cheap imitations had an almost disastrous impact on the few true and noteworthy pilsners in existence.

Brewing experts talked about how people were slapping the pilsner name on just about anything that remotely fit the specifications of the genre. This resulted in thousands of variations…most of them an insult to the original.

However, the future looks bright for the return of the true pilsner. There are some powerhouse pilsner brewers who have stayed true to form for a long time. Today, there are new breeds of brewers rising on the scene who take their brewing seriously and are doing their best to craft pilsners that rival the real thing. And, there are conscious consumers who understand that not all brews that claim to be “pilsners” are truly pilsners.

As I read the article, I found myself thinking about the Christian faith.

We have this beautifully rich faith that calls believers to a certain way of living and interacting in this world. When Christians attempt to get it right, it can be an amazing, transforming, awesome thing.

However, when Christians get it wrong, it simply becomes a cheap imitation.

There are many cheap imitations of the Christian faith out there. These cheap imitations drag the name of Christianity through the mud. These cheap imitations take something beautiful and turn it into something hideous.

And, it’s not just Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church. It’s not just the Christians who think the most effective way to promote their agenda is to blow up abortion clinics and murder doctors who perform abortions. It’s not just the extremists who are dragging the name of Christianity through the mud. It’s also yours truly.

You see, every time I settle for less than what God would intend, I’m just another cheap imitation. Every time I fail to help out a neighbor in need, I’m just another cheap imitation. Every time I make a snap judgment based on one’s outer appearance, I’m just another cheap imitation. Every time I fail to speak on behalf of those who cannot, I’m just another cheap imitation. Every time I fail to work for justice in the face of injustice, I’m just another cheap imitation. Every time I make the choice to “fit in”, I’m just another cheap imitation.

The truly disgusting part is that sometimes I’m okay with being a cheap imitation. I mean, on paper, I’d deny it. But, my actions (or lack of actions) seem to say that I’m okay with it…And, I do my best to justify my role as a cheap imitation. I’m like the brewer who puts a “pilsner” label on my beer in order to help move more product, knowing I’m settling for less than the real thing…less than the best. I’m like the Pharisee who prays, “God, I thank you that I am not like other men – robbers, evildoers, adulterers – or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get” (Luke 18:11-12).

However, like the new breed of brew masters who are emerging on the scene attempting to do their best to brew a worthy variety of pilsners, I long to become more than a cheap imitation. I long to become a high quality imitation, a clear reflection of the One I claim to follow. I desire to get it right!

What kind of imitation are you? High quality or a cheap knock-off?

3 John 1:11- “Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil but what is good. Anyone who does what is good is from God. Anyone who does what is evil has not seen God.”

Romans 12:2 (MSG)- Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

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