I get so tickled at Matthew. He got a new pair of “Woody” pajamas from the Disney store. You remember Woody, from Toy Story, don’t you? Matthew’s been wearing his Woody pajamas around the house along with his cowboy boots and an old cowboy hat I dug out. I get so hot just looking at him because they’re long-sleeved, long-legged and snug and, even with air-conditioning, I don’t know how he can run and play in them—but he looks mighty cute! Whenever you tell him how handsome he looks or call him “Woody” he gets this big, shy grin on his face and those dimples flash—and your heart just melts!
Bob decided to surprise Matthew yesterday. He went downstairs and changed into his cowboy duds—fancy western shirt and bolo tie, beautiful boots and hat, big belt buckle… He looked like a real dude! You should have seen Matthew’s face when his grandpa came back upstairs! His eyes got big, his jaw dropped and he took a step backwards! Grandpa was…was…Cowboy Bob!
Matthew had stars in his eyes as he and Grandpa proudly posed for pictures of Cowboy Bob and Cowboy Matt together. So cute!!! We’re planning to enlarge one of them and frame it so that Matthew can have a picture of himself and Grandpa to hang in his bedroom when they go back to Ecuador.
We are so easily impressed and sometimes fooled with outward trappings, aren’t we? Of course Matthew is impressed with Grandpa just because he’s Grandpa and a really fun, great guy! But yesterday Grandpa was transformed in his eyes and put on a pedestal, not because of his fine character or for some heroic deed he’d done, but simply for the way he looked and the fantasy identity he’d assumed. In his eyes, Grandpa was suddenly larger than life—a real cowboy!
Now I admit, Bob would love to be a cowboy! I even heard him tell Matthew, “Yes, I really am a cowboy at heart!” He loves to watch westerns; he loves cowboy music and western-style clothes, but he’s never lived on a ranch or even a farm; he’s rarely ridden horses; never branded a cow or mended a fence, rounded up a herd or lassoed a steer. The dream is there and I have no doubt he has all the true grit it would take to really be a cowboy if his life’s path had taken him there, but the reality is he’s a rhinestone (in other words, a fake!) cowboy, at best—an illusion to impress his little grandson! (Sorry, Honey!)
This world is full of synthetic Christians, as well. I am so tired of hearing so-and-so referred to as a “Christian” when you know by their lifestyle and world-view and lack of morality and respect for God’s Word that they cannot possibly be a true born-again Christian. These days, if you are not a Jew, a Buddhist, an atheist, a Moslem, a Hindu or whatever, you must be a Christian. If your parents took you to a so-called Christian church, or you were brought up in the Bible-belt you must be a Christian. We even hear it said, “Oh, she’s such a wonderful person, she does so much good for others—she must be a Christian!”
Religion doesn’t make one a Christian. Good deeds do not make one a Christian. A certain church, or where you live or how you were brought up cannot make you a Christian. A mere profession of God and intellectual assent do not mean there has been an actual repentance and regeneration of the heart. Even the demons “believe” and tremble, the Bible tells us. It is a relationship that makes one a Christian—a genuine, heart-felt repentance and trust in the shed blood of Jesus Christ for forgiveness of sin, and the desire to make Him Lord and Master of one’s life.
I cannot judge another man’s heart to know if he is truly born-again. Even those who do not appear to be saved may have accepted Christ earlier in life—although the Bible tells us we will know our fellow believers by their fruit (Matthew 7.) It is God, however, who looks on the heart. “…for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.” (I Samuel 16:7) There are signs, though, that the Word of God teaches indicate true, authentic Christianity.
When we accept Christ as Savior we become new creatures with new minds—that is, new intellects, new will and new emotions. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (II Corinthians 5:17) That new intellect no longer relies on the wisdom of this world, but walks by faith. That new will is no longer all about what I want or about living in the old sinful ways of my prior life, but it is about obedience to His will and righteous living. The new emotions mean we have new affections—a new, sacrificial love for God and for His people.
“Pretend” is fine for little boys and for grandpas who want to please those little boys. Dress-up is fun. Even dreams about what “might have been” are pleasurable. But when it comes to our relationship with Jesus Christ, let’s make sure we’re keeping it real—an authentic faith, genuine obedience, and true love for Him. We may fool others; we may even fool ourselves; but when it comes to standing before the throne of God someday, you may be sure HE will know what is real.