My daughter and I love to shop together. We always have, and one of the things we love to buy are purses. I don’t know what her reason is, but mine has to do with the fact that a purse always fits no matter how many calories I’ve inhaled. Plus, it’s a cheap way to look like you know what you’re doing when it comes to fashion.
A couple of years ago we found ourselves in a consignment store staring longingly at a Dolce and Gabbana handbag. It was glorious in all of its blue, buttery, leathery goodness with shiny, jingly hardware hanging off the handles. She wanted it bad. I wanted it for her. She was in heaven. I wasn’t far behind. We snatched that puppy off the shelf before anyone else could get their hands on it and flew out the door.
The excitement was short-lived. My daughter, who is arguably much smarter than I, started wondering within a day whether or not it was a true Dolce and Gabbana. Of course it was, I reasoned. I know the real thing when I see it. Or so I thought. Not convinced she took to the world wide web and started researching tell-tale signs of fake Dolce and Gabbana purses. Turns out that Dolce and Gabbana, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Chanel, all of them, have details that set them apart from the fakes.
Though not always recognizable with just a glance, careful inspection reveals some of the details that make these bags the real thing. For instance, a Dolce and Gabbana handbag should not droop under its own weight. Ours was so soft it practically lay prostrate on the store shelf. Louis Vuitton is very particular about the kind of font used on its label. Though the knockoffs have become more convincing, the difference is still there if you look closely. Gucci goes to great lengths to make sure the stitching is perfect before putting it on the shelf at a price of $400. It better be. It seems like the bag should do more than boast perfect stitching for that price, but maybe that’s just me.
The world of counterfeit merchandise is big business. For those of us who want the real thing but can’t afford it, we will often settle for the fake counterpart. It’s too costly to get the real thing, but with the fake we can at least look like we’re something we’re not.
The same comparison could be made spiritually speaking. There are many people in this world and in our churches claiming to be Christ followers, but closer inspection would reveal they are nothing but a fake. This involves playing the game of Christianity with no real heart change. At first glance this person looks like the real deal. They go to church, serve on varies church committees, give their money, say the right things, don’t swear or do anything immoral. However, inside they are crafted of shoddy workmanship at the hands of someone (the enemy) who could care less about them.
So what’s the difference between the two? It’s so simple we practically miss it, but here’s what The Message says.
34-35 “Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other” (John 13:35).
It may sound simple, but selfless, others-centered love comes from the work of a master craftsman who has slowly and patiently formed a heart that looks like His. He uses quality materials in the form of stitching together broken pieces of our lives, redeeming past mistakes, teaching lessons that become life changers. Anybody who has spent any amount of time under His gentle but steady hand, comes out stronger, well-made and with a God-given tendency to love other people with the ultimate goal of bringing them to Him.
There are a lot of fakes out there who claim to be one thing while doing the complete opposite. The world is craving what we claim we have, real love. So I have to ask myself the question we’ve all heard before: if someone accused me of being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict me?