My brother, Steve, gave me a “Rolex” watch a few years ago.
Had all the looks of the real thing:
the word “Rolex” there on the face
with the highly recognizable crown above,…
I was astounded when he gave it to me.
I didn’t know what to say!
That is, until he told me that he got it
and a handful of other “knock-offs”
in Singapore for about $10 each.
Sure enough, it did not work — inner parts betraying it’s real integrity… or lack of integrity. (While I’ve used it in a sermon or two or three [I even resorted to it this last weekend!], I’ve never worn it in public. Beyond the fact that it doesn’t work, I’m afraid someone will take it for real and kill me for it! Not worth dying for an imitation. Though I’ve got to admit that it might be worth it to see the crook’s face when he found out. But, then, I might not be around to see his face. So, maybe it’s not worth it after all.)
Reminds me of a post by Chad Missildine, a Pastor with the Fort Worth campus of LifeChurch.tv and blogger at TheWayItCouldBe.com (where he encourages cultural impact through personal transformation). In “10 Ways to Become a Plastic Church” he writes about how a congregation can look like a church on the outside (building, services, staff, etc… “who knows, there may even be a steeple”) but, on the inside, they barely resemble a real/genuine church/community of faith in the [spiritual] image of Christ. There’s “no real community of believers,” he writes, “no prayer, no real concern for people, no application of Scripture in real life, no transformation.”
“Plastic churches,” knock off Christians:
aren’t we kind of talking about the same thing?
You know: posing like the real thing on the surface
but lacking the deeper integrity to go the distance?
Given our mission and hopes
through Zoe-Life and its Explorations,
the questions naturally flow from all this:
* how “plastic” am I in my walk and witness and being?
* am I, are we, like my brother’s “Rolex”–
no more than an cheap imitation?
[The words of Jesus haunt me, here:
“Not everyone who calls me ‘Lord, Lord’ is a real disciple.”
Not everyone who totes the label is the real thing!]
Easy as it would be to point my finger at others –
and rail against plastic believers (and churches) all around,
it’s most responsible and accurate
to “look at the beam in my own eye”
– or, should I say, the plasticity of my own being and living.
With my brother’s watch (and Missildine’s post) in front of me,
I have borrowed from and modified
a “Litany of Confession”
from the Wesleyan Service of Covenant Renewal
and have come up with the following
“Litany of Confession for a Knock-Off [or Plastic] Disciple”:
Most Holy and Real God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
Forgive, I pray, the ways I have devalued authenticity in my life and living:
the poverty, the shallowness of my worship,
the formality and selfishness of my prayers,
my taking great blessings with little thanks,
my fickleness and unbelief,
my shallow “posings,”
my slowness to learn of Jesus and my reluctance to follow him.
Have mercy on me and forgive me, O Lord.
Forgive me, I pray,
that I have made no ventures in real, authentic community
and that I have made it hard for others to live with me:
Too many times I have excused my wrongdoings or diminished
my responsibilities–while, at the same time, scrutinizing others
and judging them for the ways they did not do it my way.
Too many times I have kept in my heart a grievance against another
and not sought reconciliation,
Too often I have related to others purely on the basis of what they
can do for me.
I’ve been thoughtless in my judgments, hasty in my condemnation,
grudging in my forgiveness.
Have mercy on me and forgive me, O Lord.
Forgive me, I pray, my hesitating witness for Christ:
So little of your love has reached others through me,
Too often, You stretch out your hands to me through others and I pass by.
I have been eager for the punishment of wrongdoers,
but slow to seek their redemption.
I have been unwilling to overcome evil with good.
I have drawn back from the cross.
I have lost so little sleep over wrongs and sufferings that were not my own.
Have mercy upon me, O God,
blot out my transgressions.
Cleanse me thoroughly of my self-centeredness.
Create in me a clean heart, O God;
and renew a right spirit within me–
granting me integrity and “realness” and fullness in my inmost being
(my inner workings aligning with You
and your ideals for my outer life and living).