Many art pieces have been sold as authentic masterpieces only to be discovered as forgeries decades later by experts with the help of technology – Microscopy; Mass-spectrometry; X-ray; Infrared reflectography, etc. Without technology, detecting forgery is a very arduous task.
Human deceit is also very difficult to detect. Often, when exposed it shocks many, and the discovery may take place only after many decades of deception.
One kind of deceit is something which we may find acceptable or even have practised at times. It is subtle, and we may say it does not hurt others. I am referring to how we deceive ourselves into doing a variety of things that we wouldn’t approve of others doing. Layering our actions with excuses and creating reasons/logic to fit and empathise with our specific situation, we deceive ourselves that we are ok.
In the Church, there are many who are deceived by the thinking that since they attend church, tithe, join a small group, attend talks, etc., they are doing okay as Christians. They may think God only needs to do a cosmetic touch-up of their life here and there. And so, they settle happily into being “Mere-Christians”.
I hope they will be shocked by the words of Pastor Edmund Chan, “God is not interested in renovating us but in transforming us.” He is not interested in remodelling us but in doing an extensive transformation inside out to make us new.
It is cheaper and less of a hassle to renovate or do cosmetic remodelling then total transformation. And so is being a Mere-Christian easier than being a disciple of Christ.
But the easier route is not meant for us. Jesus said: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15), meaning that obedience to Christ’s commandments is both a sign and a test of our love for Him. This is a recurring theme in the apostle John’s writings. These “commands” encompass all of Jesus’ words and teachings. Jesus said “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free…” (John 8:31-32)
Obeying Christ’s commands means copying the examples of Jesus, i.e. to be Christ-like (John 13:15-17). This is authentic Christianity in the simplest and purest form. Obeying Christ’s commands is not merely a feeling, it is an active, abiding, ongoing relationship of following and obeying our loving Master. “We know that we have come to know Him if we keep His commands.” (1 John 2:3)
Copying the example of Jesus is the highest accolade that we can return to the Master. As we commit ourselves to doing it, asking for His empowerment to do so more and more, the more pleased He will be.
By brother Shi Pau Soon