Read: Luke 20
“Beware of these teachers of religious law! For they like to parade around in flowing robes and love to receive respectful greetings as they walk in the marketplaces. And how they love the seats of honor in the synagogues and the head table at banquets. Yet they shamelessly cheat widows out of their property and then pretend to be pious by making long prayers in public. Because of this, they will be severely punished.” (Luke 20:46-47, NLT)
On a fairly regular basis, concerned believers will approach me with questions about certain nationally known religious figures—televangelists, TV preachers, well-known Christian authors. Usually the concerns center around their opulent lifestyles, their over-the-top theatrics, or the “lightweight” message they preach. And the hope behind the question is that I will side with their sense of outrage and condemn the Christian celebrity in question.
Jesus had a string of run-ins with spiritual celebrities in his day. Although their theology was not of the health and wealth variety that you see so much today—theirs was harsh, condemning, legalistic and intolerant—the outcome was much the same: Over-the-top showiness and money-grubbing.
In Jesus’ case, he didn’t go out of his way to condemn them; they were going out of their way to condemn him. But when confronted, Jesus spoke openly and honestly of the spiritual damage they were doing and of the harsh judgment that awaited them. As a result, they hated Jesus and looked for every opportunity to have him killed.
The simple authenticity of Jesus’ spirituality—his power, authority and humility—was a threat to their carefully crafted religious celebrity. That’s why there was such hatred and hostility toward Jesus. Jesus was the real deal—and they suffered by comparison in the eyes of a spiritually discerning public.
Which brings me to a point about today’s “Christian” celebrities. There is nothing wrong with having respectful debate regarding their ways, or sharing an informed opinion when asked. But the most powerful weapon against inauthentic religiosity is the simple authenticity of your own spirituality. When you walk in Christlike power, authority and humility, you won’t have to go out of your way to condemn anyone. Simply being the real deal will be enough.
I’ve been told that when U.S. treasury agents are trained to spot counterfeit money, they don’t spend their time looking at phony bills. They study the real deal. They become so familiar with the truth that the fake becomes readily apparent.
Just be the real deal—nothing more is required.
“Suspect everything that is prosperous unless it promotes piety and charity and humility.” ~Isaac Taylor
What If God Took Over?
Ask the Lord to strip you of pretentious, self-absorbed showiness and make you the real deal. If you are truly open to him, and willing to surrender your own ego and agenda, he will enable you to walk in authentic power, spiritual authority, and true humility.