One of the major reasons I have avoided religious institutions during my faith walk, is due to the abundance of Imitation Faith which I have witnessed, and I realise I am not alone in this. While I thoroughly love being part of a faith-group where I can share in worship, and servitude, which challenges me, and yet supports me in my faith walk, I have found it difficult to find lasting support for the type of relationship I have with my Lord and Saviour. Still I keep an open heart, an open mind, and a willing spirit to go wherever He directs me. The true test is to be completely myself and not contort into someone I feel the church might support, I must focus on the promise that God supports me, and that is all I need. That being said, I have been blessed many times within church walls as God has moved me in and about. In fact I am currently befriending a new congregation and excited to see how God moves there.
Evidence of Imitation Faith disheartens and upsets me. Sometimes the imitation is glaringly obvious, you can tell within one interaction. Often the imitation appears so similar to the genuine article, making it difficult to identify, and it can take quite some time to recognise. If there is the possibility of hearing from the Lord through a Donkey, we have to have open ears no matter our whereabouts. It’s hard to explain how to tell the fake, because it’s not always due to behaviour, or language, or anything exterior. Sometimes it can be genuine for a season and then become corrupted. It is a constant battle of discernment. Genuine faith is an internal, private journey with submission to the specific, individual guidance from God, with opportunities to exercise our faith and obedience to fulfill each request, developing and maintaining a covenant with Him. Through each unique relationship, God reveals Himself to us, this is how we develop a familiarity with God’s Character so we can recognise, trust and truly love Him. Imitation faith attempts to push us all onto one same narrow path, it fails to grasp how vastly unique each of us is and which level our faith is at, or what is required to gain the next perfect level. It can severely mislead believers away from their God given path with guilt, than towards it with support. It’s no wonder that it can be something to be wary of. Much evidence throughout the bible states that within the Nation of believers there were only ever a remnant who obeyed God, only a remnant who trusted Him. Something else to remember is that Christ spoke in parables for a reason, to hide the truth, to prevent the imitation from knowing the secrets of the gospel. For good reason….
9 He that hath ears, let him hear. 10 And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? 11 And he answered and said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.12 For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that which he hath.13 Therefore speak I to them in parables; because seeing they see not, and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.14 And unto them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall in no wise understand; And seeing ye shall see, and shall in no wise perceive:15 For this people’s heart is waxed gross, And their ears are dull of hearing, And their eyes they have closed; Lest haply they should perceive with their eyes, And hear with their ears, And understand with their heart, And should turn again, And I should heal them.16 But blessed are your eyes, for they see; and your ears, for they hear.17 For verily I say unto you, that many prophets and righteous men desired to see the things which ye see, and saw them not; and to hear the things which ye hear, and heard them not.
Recently during a great conversation, I was reminded of a metaphor which my Dad used to explain imitation faith to me when I first began my adult faith walk. It was invaluable for me as a ‘Baby Christian’ to understand how easily we can be deceived into building imitation faith as apposed to genuine faith.
There was once a man who was flat broke, he had many bills to pay and debt collectors breathing down his neck. During a moment of extreme desperation he fell to his knees and prayed “If there is a God, please help me pay my bills”. The next week he was walking along the road on his way to a job interview for a job he would rather not do, when he discovered a briefcase, unlocked, full of money. Now the money was counterfeit, but the man didn’t care to wonder nor check. He went to the post office and paid his bills, it worked. His debt was cleared, he thanked “God” and he decided not to go to the job interview after-all.
The metaphor is that the pursuit of faith is just like the man’s pursuit of money, he needed it, he prayed for it, yet he found something less than perfection, less than righteous, less than true and he accepted it. He accepted it because it was an easier ‘answer’ to his prayer than the job interview God had actually provided, for a job that would have taught him priceless lessons about himself, about hard work, about responsibility, about the character of God and how to develop true faith in Him. He would have received an abundance of Godly blessings that would not only have covered his debts, but given him a lifetime without worry of money. He didn’t push past the imitation in order to search out the genuine, and settled for much less.
Lord, cover our mind with the amour of your salvation, that we may see and perceive, and hear and understand. That we never settle for the easier false options in our walk, and that we are blessed to be privy to your hidden truths, which fall on the soft soil of our hearts and not be stolen away, or overgrown with falsehood. In Yeshua’s Mighty Name I Pray! Amen!