ARTIFICIAL OR REAL?




The pastor made comments about the lovely flower arrangements decorating the front of the church. He used them as an excellent illustration about being real! They looked deceptively real, but were in fact artificial, fake, and phony.

Not all things, or people for that matter, are the real thing. Imitations are passed off as the real thing everywhere one goes. Fake flowers and fake people can deceive us, but thankfully not for long. Counterfeit coins or counterfeit Christians – neither can be taken at face value. Being totally acquainted with the real thing, however, will give us the discernment to know when something or someone is fake! As I mulled over this picture, other thoughts crowded my mind.

In our sanctuary, there is no access to natural light streaming in through beautiful, wide or stained glass windows. Even a child knows that without natural light real plants cannot grow. The reason we don’t have too many windows is probably because we fear they would invite vandalism. What if someone left them open and it rained in? Whose job would it be to open and close them all the time? Hence the decision was made to have no windows and to use fake greenery and flowers to at least give the appearance of beauty, softening the strong lines and edges.

Without windows the bright light on the inside cannot be viewed on the outside either. We come together as a family of God to worship Him inside our beautifully designed, decorated, huge and comfortable house; but we don’t let the sunshine in or allow our light to be seen on the outside. Is there perhaps a spiritual lesson in this as well? Much more important, however, is whether this is the case in our personal life.

Do the windows of our soul allow for the Light of Jesus Christ to penetrate so that we can grow – naturally and beautifully? Do they in turn allow us to radiate that light back to the world so that they can see the works of our Father in our life? Are we real, growing and bearing fruit in our season and for eternity? Are we a joy for others to behold in all our diversity?

Sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with a co-worker, I was surprised when she made the strong comment that, “religion should be a very private thing.” In an accusing tone she said that my friend and I, who were partners in ministry at that time, were so different; we were always talking about our faith, beliefs and values in one way or another, making it a normal part of every day conversation. “I like to keep my religion to myself,” she continued. “That’s like keeping the shades drawn in my house so no one can see inside. I’m a very private person and no one needs to know what goes on in my house or my heart. That’s my business only. God sees me and that’s all,” she insisted. Then, in a disapproving tone, she persisted, “The two of you never have the shades drawn. You are both so transparent about your beliefs and values in Jesus and the Bible that everyone can see the light that’s inside, just shining out there for everyone to see!” and she spread her hands wide for drama!

Noting her defensiveness and her unwillingness to hear any more of what I had to share about the Lord, my comment to her was an incredulous, “My, then I’d better make sure my windows are always washed.” This seemed to disarm her and we both chuckled.

What she meant to be insulting and a put-down has been to me a most valued acknowledgment of my role as Christ’s disciple. It never fails to cause me to ask myself if I truly am reflecting the Light of Jesus everywhere I go and with whom I come in contact on a daily basis. Am I real because I’m growing in the Light of Jesus or am I a plastic, fake, phony Christian because there is no light? I rejoiced that our windows were clean and people could see the Light of our Savior radiating in and through us; in our daily lives and in our ministry team. She still sometimes makes disparaging remarks about other Christians and I continue to pray for her.

After the pastor’s vivid picture about being real or fake, I checked my heart before the Lord. I asked forgiveness for the times I don’t allow myself to be real because of fear of what people might think. Then I was also reminded to make sure that my windows are always washed so His Light can shine through – in both directions. How about you? Any thoughts come to mind?

“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness.” Matthew 23:26-28

26 comments:

George said...

Thank you for a very thought-provoking post. It made me recognize the importance of windows -- and the need to make sure my window is clean.

Sandy said...

Such a great lesson, Karin. I love real flowers and clean windows but for me, I need to keep them clean so I can fully see and appreciate others. I tend to be an introvert so it's very easy for me to focus only on myself and close off the rest of the world. I need to make sure I keep my shades up and my windows clean!

Ruth's Photo Blog said...

Thank-you,for tho wonderful post.
it is something we should all be thinking of more often.

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Interesting post, Karin.. That goes to show that it takes all kinds of people to make up the world. Yes--there are REAL people and there are FAKE people... AND--some of us open our lives to others and some do not. Some open our windows and curtains --and others don't....

I do think though (not speaking about the lady you talked to who seems to have some 'issues') that there can be some fine Christians who truly don't talk about religion or their faith to others publicly. However, they show it in other ways --by the way that they live, the way they quietly do things for others without fanfare, etc. It could be more of a personality thing.

I guess I try to let my light shine for Christ --by setting an example to those around me, by what I can say or do for them.

Interesting topic--and I'm sure one which can cause much discussion...

Hugs,
Betsy

Linda said...

Good post Karin! Much truth is found in it. May we all keep our windows clean so the love and light of Jesus can shine through to others!

Love you sister!

Linda @ Truthful Tidbits

Ginny said...

Well, I just love this story!! And what a great reply you gave to this woman!! This reminds me of the bible verse where it says that men do bad things in the dark, I'm too lazy to look it up now, but it is kind of similar to this story. If you want something kept very private, it makes me wonder what you have to hide.

Mari said...

What a great post. It's amazing what you got out of some artificial flowers! Lots of thought provoking today and that's good. :)
I think what your co-worker said was a great compliment!

Shug said...

Such a great illustration and a wonderful lesson to be learned...Truly a lot to think about and much to share...
enjoyed this post greatly

Blessings

ellen b. said...

Very timely illustration. I've always found it strange when people feel you should keep your faith quiet. I've also never been fond of fake flowers.

My daily walk in His grace! said...

Hi Karin - Great analogy - I too want to be real. Thank you for the reminder.
God bless
Tracy

HOOTIN' ANNI said...

Incredible share. Your thoughts are 'right on'.

STILT WALKER?

Have a happy Sunday.

Karen said...

This is a great post. It reminds me of Pastor Francis Frangipane's sermon about meeting Jesus "On the Road to De-Mask Us"

Mildred said...

Hi Karin, I always enjoy your posts. You've given us a lot of think about today.

Blessings to you and yours in the coming week.

Lady Dorothy said...

This post came at just the right time for me to share with my daughter! She was experiencing some criticism because of her light shining so brightly! :-) Thank you!

(Queenmothermamaw) Peggy said...

I always think about you Karin on Sunday because I know you are willing to share your light. Thanks so much for you visit and your words do bring up a lot of thoughts. When I was working and still today, I pray each day that I may be a reflection of God to someone today.
Blessings
QMM

pam said...

So much good stuff here. If we're real and honest about what we struggle with then God can work more easily and definitely get some glory as we are transformed. Such a waste of time trying to portray a certain image isn't it?

Glenda said...

So much truth here, Karin! When we allow God's Light to shine into our hearts, it just naturally and genuinely spills out!

Ann said...

Hi karin,

You were a war child, you must have a lot to tell.

My mum was a war child and a war bride.

Think of this sicko Norwegian man.

I used to do flowers in church. We don't use fake flower. I use the hyrangeas from my garden.

chezzy louise said...

really something that makes you think. i got to your blog through my aunt's My Little Corner... i'm really enjoying reading your posts, thanks!

T.O. Geezer said...

Great illustration! If everyone thought religion should be private and not talked about in public, I would still be dead in my trespasses and sins. A co-worker shared the gospel with me back in 1980. PTL :-)

God bless and have a nice weekend :-)

~Ron

Jan said...

So thoughtful and insightful, Karin, you always see so much more than I do.
I am looking forward to getting back to our bible studies this week, as there has been a break for school holidays recently,
With love, Jan

Marg said...

Another great lesson taught about being real. Too many of us have learned how to mask our pain...but once again we can choose who we want to be real with...for those who share that sacred spot in our hearts.

Wendy said...

Interesting. I would have sworn those flowers were real.

Very insightful post. Thank you.

Marsha @Spots and Wrinkles said...

Here's to keeping the windows washing, and our candle firmly on a lampstand and not hidden under a bushel. :)

blessings to you - Marsha

Shanda said...

We have to be sensitive to others. But we cannot help but let our light shine. It should flow out of us and actions speak louder than words. It is hard to be totally private.

Rose said...

Fake things and people are not very hard to distinguish from the genuine .
Song of your Life!
The Song that describes you the Best!
http://www.3smartcubes.com/pages/tests/theme_song/theme_song_instructions.asp