Have you ever gotten fake likes on social media? The ones where someone “likes” your blog post, but when you check the stats you can tell they never read it? Or those “follows” on Twitter from someone promoting their business, CD, or book that go away if you don’t instantly follow back? Or the ones who add you on certain site to boost their own numbers—not because they’re interested in what you have to say? Yeah, it annoys me, too.
Just as there are fake followers on social media, there are insincere followers of the Christian faith. The Bible says that love must be sincere. Unfortunately, there are those who twist the faith for selfish purposes.
From what I’ve heard of the main speech at the National Prayer Breakfast, I agree on this one point…we should never seek to hijack religion for our own personal or political gain. And if we are honest about history, it’s happened in every faith. We need to admit that there are counterfeits of Christianity out there, and these counterfeits have twisted what was meant to be good into a man-made farce. The problem comes in thinking that because counterfeits exist, all must be counterfeit. In truth, having a counterfeit means the real thing’s got to be out there, we just have to take a closer look.
Jesus himself spoke of separating the sheep from the goats. They may look similar from the outside, but at closer glance there are differences. I doubt Jesus meant to pick on the goats, but in a symbolic measure they represent the bad guys—those who claim to follow Christ yet live in selfish ignorance. The sheep are the good guys, representing those who live what they believe in lives of sincere, sacrificial love.
Obviously, those in history who used scripture to justify slavery were the goats of the pack. They were as the evil, hypocritical Pharisees Jesus himself condemned in his day. Yet we must remember that multitudes of escaped slaves and abolitionists were people of a strong, true, and sincere faith (think Frederick Douglass, Harriett Tubman, William Lloyd Garrison, Harriet Beecher Stowe, William and Ellen Craft, Josiah Henson, and Henry “Box” Brown, to name a few). Their Christian faith persevered through great suffering and drove them to fight impossible odds for the freedom of all slaves. They were the real deal.
The end argument is that faith must be sincere, and is evidenced by love in action. Jesus himself admitted there were those who hijacked religion, so why can’t we? The existence of faith-hijackers is evidence there’s something real out there and we need to find it.
I think of how Jesus refused the opportunity to become an earthly king—knowing that loving self-sacrifice, even death on a cross was his calling. So if I’m going to look at what Christianity is all about, I’m not going to look at the hijackers. I’m gonna look at the one whose love was so sincere he was willing to die for the sins of the world.
We may not agree with all that was spoken at the prayer breakfast, but at least this whole thing brings to light that there are sheep and there are goats—counterfeits, and the real thing. As for me, I want to be counted among the sheep. I want my faith to be genuine, and my love to be sincere.
“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil, cling to what is good.” (Romans 12:9)