WASHINGTON, July 28, 2013 — There is a story about an organ grinder’s monkey in New York City in the 1940’s. The monkey strayed away from his owner at night in the dead of winter. The temperatures were in the low teens, and the monkey could not find shelter or warmth anywhere. The animal finally came upon a store front that had an artificial fireplace with the lighting and ambiance that closely replicated a real fire.
The monkey stood by the window display with its hands stretched toward the faux hearth, and was found frozen stiff the following morning.
If you consider yourself to be a religious person, are you concerned about how you come across to those who are outside of your faith? Are others repelled or attracted to your faith based on the life you live?
As with the organ grinder’s monkey that saw a promise of relief in the midst of horrific frigid weather, many of our neighbors and co-workers are suffering through the bitter cold conditions of a bad marriage, catastrophic financial failures, substance abuse, dysfunctional relationships, or just overwhelmed with life itself.
These same friends and neighbors see us at a distance, and have heard us speak of how God can make a difference in our lives. But upon close examination, they often find that our religious façade is just a mirage.
We speak of love and fidelity in marriage, yet we make sexual advances towards our coworkers. We proudly speak of how honesty is the best policy, yet, our tax accountant goes through our financial records and is shocked at the number of obviously inflated and fraudulent expenses we claim on our tax return.
Our business advertisements declare that we have made quality a top priority in workmanship of our products. Yet, we repeatedly cut corners and press our employees to meet production quotas no matter how much we have to sacrifice that very same quality.
If you are a professing Christian but are leading a double life, dust your Bible off and discover the words of Jesus. His stern words tell us that He would rather we go hog-wild after the world’s lusts rather than pretend to be true believers, living a life back-and-forth on the fence:
“I know your works, that you are neither cold (insensitive to what I want) nor hot (with a fiery passion for Me and what I want): I would rather that you were cold OR hot. So then because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will (try and test to see exactly where you are in your desire for Me and) vomit you out of My mouth.” (Revelation 3:15,16)
Do you think that this passage is a biblical anomaly? Think again. Jesus demonstrated that He detests any example of false advertising – even in natural things.
Consider the following:
“when (Jesus and His disciples) were returning from Bethany, Jesus was hungry: And seeing a fig tree a distance away, having leaves (indicative of a fig tree that should be full of figs), Jesus came, and expected to find figs on the tree: and when Jesus came to it, he found nothing but leaves; for the time of figs was not yet. And Jesus answered and said unto the tree, ‘No man eat fruit of thee hereafter for ever.’ And Jesus’ disciples heard it. … And in the morning, as they (returned and) passed by, they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots. And Peter calling to remembrance said to Jesus, ‘Master, look and see, the fig tree on which you pronounced a curse is withered away‘.” (Mark 11:12-14, 20, 21)
How many persons that our Lord has allowed us to reach, have we shown a poor example of representing the God we say we are proud to serve? How many persons in need have been utterly disappointed to find that we are nothing more than hypocrites?
You may say: “Yes, but they should follow the LORD; I am just a servant.” That is a cop out. If you are a professing Christian, your Bible says that YOUR pathetic, hypocritical, double-standard lifestyle causes the unbelieving world to reject YOUR God:
“You who say that a man should not commit adultery, do YOU commit adultery? You who hate idols, do YOU worship idols? You who make a boast of the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law? For the Name of God is blasphemed among the unbelieving Gentiles through you, as it is written.” (Romans 2:22-24)
How about it, friend? Does your walk match your talk? If not, it is a no small wonder that others are not interested in your religion. What does the bible say is the real deal when it comes to religion? Consider this:
“Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” (James 1:27)
Visiting the fatherless and widows means to meet people at their point of need, as you are able. No more, no less. The other facet is to live according to what the Bible teaches, and thus, keep yourself unspotted from the world.
The key to it all is to be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might (and not our own strength).
Jesus said: “I am the vine, you are the branches: He that abides in Me, and I in him, the same brings forth much fruit: for without Me, you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)
Unspotted does not mean perfect. It means that our hearts are oriented and focused in a direction that is moving toward Him, and striving to live a life pleasing to Him. All of this is accomplished through the power of His Holy Spirit.
Give the world pure religion (as described in James 1:27). No one wants an adulterated imitation.
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