By Olabode Ososami (bio)
The first question you ask yourself is this: Is there any such thing as a counterfeit Christian in church and in the world? Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ said there is, and right there in church.
It is not for me to go round looking for the counterfeit Christians in church but to look inwardly and ask myself: “Am I a counterfeit Christian? Have I truly experienced Christ? Is He alive in me at home, at work and in church?
It is not my neighbours that make me a true Christian. They are there to test whether I am really what I profess to be. My life as a Christian is to reveal the life of Christ to my world beginning with the people I live with at home each day from my spouse to the rest of my family and moving outwards to the place where I work and then to the church where I visit less frequently each week.
We must recognize that a lot of good can come from religious observance, without the knowledge of the true God and His Christ. Take the life journey of a fake currency. A fake $500 note may be used to buy bread to feed the hungry. The bread seller may then pass it to the rice seller and then to the meat seller and after a journey of twelve years it would finally arrive at the bank to be lodged by a car dealer. Then the bank subjects it to scrutiny and detects that it is a fake currency. Now the fact that it was and had always been a fake currency did not stop it from doing some good along the way. It might even have visited churches and done some good there too. But all that good could not change the fact that it is a fake currency posing to be what it is not. This is why supposed Christians could go far, but never far enough to prove the reality of Christ. Only the grace of God in Christ Jesus driven by the Spirit of God can empower us to stand up to the pressures of compromise with evil.
Counterfeit Christians may be hard to detect in church. We say here in Nigeria that every toad is squatting so it is difficult to say the one that has diarrhea. In church we all put on our very best behaviours and try to say the nicest things to the most difficult people. At work, we lose some of the constraints of church. At home where we may be king and queen, we tend to lose even more restraint. How often do very nice people at church and at work turn (to) monsters at home? How often do very nice people at church turn (to) monsters at work? Monsters are generally uncommon in church but not altogether rare.
Part of our self-examination as Christians must hinge on the word conversion or change.
The truth of our faith is that God put on human nature so that through faith the nature of God can be experienced by man. It is not just that we become children of God by faith. It is that through faith we begin to reveal the nature and character of God in our dealings with others in the world. Faith draws down the spiritual inner strength that drives the change. And this is the change that must be for us to be sure that we are no counterfeits.
A young Christian asked me the other day how one could change his way of life. My response was straight forward: The first step is a very strong desire to change. The Holy Spirit always works effectively where He can see very strong desire. When we study the Word of God with this quality desire, the life of Christ will stare us in the face as we study and the Spirit of God will empower us to effect the necessary changes like – unyielding love, humility, integrity, kindness, compassion, willingness to forgive others as well as ourselves, self-control, self-denial in the pursuit of righteousness, consistent rejection of compromises with evil, seasoned speech that edify the hearers at home, at work and in church, suffering for what is right and much more. Nobody can work these works of righteousness in their own strength. We all need daily, nay moment by moment inner strengthening by the Spirit of God to stand up for Christ in this world. The truth we must grasp is that Almighty God gave us eternal life in the person of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Through the knowledge of Christ, this eternal life is expressed in this world through our lives. This is that eternal life which our Lord Jesus Christ described in these words:
John 17 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.
It is when my life reveals that I know God: when my dealings with others show forth the character of Christ, then I can be assured that I am no counterfeit. It is for this reason that we must make a difference wherever we are as Christians because we are expected to reveal the character of Christ no matter the cost. This is a daily challenge and that is why those who had gone before us admonished us in this way:
Genuine Christians know the daily struggle to keep on the straight and narrow road at home, at work and in church. Counterfeits tend to struggle in church to stay godly but lose all restraint at work and at home. If a nation that boasts that 50% of her population are Christians is not being transformed, then the churches in that nation must be full of counterfeits. This calls for deep self-examination. It poses a challenge to each Christian. We must know that God has called us into Christ so that the world around us can see Christ in us and through us. Every nation will change when a good percentage of its people are changed. I cannot control change outside of myself. My greatest challenge as a Christian is to be a changed person so that the world can see the nature of Christ in me and through me. If the world around me is not full of light, then it is either that I bear no light at all or that the light I carry is weak and faint and so cannot dispel the darkness around me. As Children of Light, let us rise and shine ever so brightly in every corner of our world – church, work or home, to the glory of our God. He who has called is very faithful and is a true and consistent rewarder of all those who love and serve Him. Our labours can never be in vain either in this world or in the world to come.
May the Holy Spirit empower you to take your place in the frontline of the struggle for righteousness in the very place where you are now, to the glory of God and His Christ, Amen.