I was surfing the web a little this past week, doing intense research, I assure you; when I came across this web-site, “Can you spot a fake?”
They had short five second videos, I’m guessing, of about twenty people smiling and you were supposed to figure out which smile was real and which smile wasn’t.
It’s not as easy as it sounds. I got about half right. Just because a person looks like they are smiling doesn’t mean that smile is coming from the heart…and just because a person looks like they are a Christian doesn’t mean the gospel has really transformed their heart.
If your heart has never really been transformed by the gospel, if all you are is a surface, superficial Christian - the gospel has not really changed your heart; you can sit and listen to the Word all day long and you are not going to profit from it.
“Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil and immediately it sprang up since it had no depth of soil. And when the sun rose it was scorched and since it had no root, it withered away…And these are the ones sown on rocky ground: the ones who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy. And they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while, then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word immediately they fall away.”
It’s not always easy to tell the difference between someone who is merely a superficial fake Christian and someone who is authentic.
For example, you’d have a hard time in Jesus story at first telling the difference between this person’s response to the Word, the rocky ground soil person and the one who is authentic - the good soil man; the only way to tell the difference really is what happens when obedience to the Word starts to cost them something.
That’s the whole deal with tribulation and persecution.
The tricky thing in our culture of course is that there’s isn’t a whole lot of tribulation or persecution going around, at least not to the point of life or death. It can be just the opposite. There can be some benefits…you’ve got a nice group of people to hang out with, people might start thinking you are a good person, and it’s not like they charge you anything to come to church - and since the choice isn’t life or death, because there are some positives to showing up at church and looking like a Christian, it’s a whole lot easier to go a long time looking like a Christian in our day when in fact you are not.
I think a test for us might be, how do we respond to the word when obedience to the word makes our life difficult? When obeying the word isn’t easy?
There are people whose entire Christianity consists only of doing things they would do even if they didn’t claim to be Christians, who ignore the Scripture when it requires sacrifice…and so it’s no surprise that they can sit and listen to the Word for years and years and not really benefit, because their heart has never been truly transformed by the gospel.
All they are is superficial Christians.
They look like Christians on the outside, maybe - but they are not Christians in their heart.
When it comes to benefiting from the Word,superficiality is a threat.