Bread – Counterfeits

October 31, 2014


Readings for Friday, October 31, 2014, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: *; Rev. 13:1-10; Luke 12:13-31; Psalms 40,51,54

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Today is Halloween. Among other things, it is a day when people dress up in costumes, to appear and act as someone other than themselves. It is a time for the timid person to become a pirate, the thinking person to become a ghoul or a goblin, the unbeliever to become an angel, the mean person to become Snow White, and the college professor to become a farmer with a pitchfork. At Halloween, those who participate become someone who they are not; they become counterfeits. The person looking like a pirate is not a pirate; the person looking like an angel is no angel. They are counterfeit reproductions of the real (or imagined) thing.

Boy, being told you are a counterfeit angel sort of takes the air out of our wings, doesn’t it?

We live with counterfeits all the time. People who pretend to be friends but who are not. People who pretend to like us but do not. Actions stated to be out of love really being actions taken out of desire for higher position. People who pretend to have wisdom, but have none. People who pretend to represent God, but really represent themselves.

The question we need to ask ourselves every day is simply (and harshly) – are we a counterfeit Christian? Do we say that we love Christ, but do not. Do we say that we pray regularly, but do not. Do we say that we trust Jesus Christ, but show more trust in our retirement account than we do in the God of the universe. Do we say that Christ is the Way when asked by our pastor, but then teach our children that there are many ways to heaven?

We often act like a bad example of a Christian, even though we know in our hearts that God is working a miracle in us, that He has saved us, that He sustains us, that He helps us grow in our walk with Him, that we are slowly transforming our mind through Him and His Word, that we are slowly growing from strength to strength. So what is to separate the truly counterfeit from just the bad example?

In our reading from Revelation today, there is a Halloweenish beast presented to us. “…and they worshiped the beast, saying ‘Who is like the beast, and who can fight against it?” … And the beast as given a mouth to utter haughty and blasphemous words, and it was allowed to exercise authority …Also it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them…[A]ll who dwell on earth will worship it …” Rev. 13:4-8

The beast is seen by the people as having divine powers because of his authority and speech and power. He is a counterfeit messiah, even going so far to pretend it was resurrected from death from a mortal wound [“One of its heads seemed to have a mortal wound, but its mortal wound was healed, and the whole earth marveled as they followed the beast.” Rev. 13:3]. To many people, he is a type of messiah, but we know that he is a counterfeit messiah because there is only one, Jesus Christ.

We can be fooled by counterfeits, and in fact many people follow the beast. They see what they want to see.

The Christians, however, in the midst of this do not fall for the counterfeit. “…and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain.” Rev. 13:8

There will come a time and it may well be around the corner when the beast appears and makes war against the saints. The saints will be killed, tortured, beheaded, stripped of power and secular authority, imprisoned. The counterfeits will follow the beast; those whose names were written in the Lamb’s book of life “before the foundation of the world” will not.

Instead, the real Christians who live in those times will persevere, saying prayers and songs similar to what is given to us today in the Psalms. Listen to the Psalmist today from Psalms 40, 51 and 54:

“He drew me up from the pit of destruction … and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure.  He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust, who does not turn to the proud, to those who go astray after a lie! Then I say, ‘Behold, I have come; in the scroll of the book it is written of me: I delight to do your will, O my God; Your law is within my heart.’  As for me, I am poor and needy, but the Lord takes thought for me. You are my help and my deliverer; do not delay, O my God!” (excerpts from Psalm 40)

“For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.  Against You, You only, have I sinned and done what is evil in Your sight…  Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.  Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.  O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare Your praise.  The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.” (excerpts from Psalm 51)

“O God, save me by Your name, and vindicate me by Your might.  Behold, God is my helper; the Lord is the upholder of my life.  I will give thanks to Your name, O Lord, for it is good.  For He has delivered me from every trouble…” (excerpts from Psalm 54)

Can a counterfeit say and mean these things? No. But a bad example can. Why? Because God saved us by His choice, by His grace. He did not save us because of who we are but because He chose to do so.

Thanks be to God!

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© 2014 GBF

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