By Stacie Ruth Stoelting
Mentally, I screamed, Oh, come on! Hurry up! I sighed.
I clutched my cordless and waited. Then, I heard his voice, “Hey, Stacie! Well, I…uh…I haven’t been able to find Sara. It’s been crazy around here!”
I took a deep breath. How could it take him so many days to get in touch with Sara? I had completely blocked off an entire day because “Mike,” an event planner, wanted me to be able to sing at an enormous event. I reiterated:
“Well, I really do need to know that Sara has confirmed this. I’ve been planning on singing…”
“Yeah, I’m really, really working on it.” Mike, a young guy in his upper-twenties, sounded young but mature. He seemed sincere.
Satisfied, we closed the conversation.
Then, a few days went by. I decided to contact “Sara” directly. I called the office where she worked. She answered. I explained that, after talking with Mike, I had been planning on singing at the gala. She stammered.
“Huh? Uh… We already have a singer.”
My mouth dropped open faster than my DVD player ejects. I rebounded with “Oh, I guess I’m that singer. I’m Stacie Ruth Stoelting.”
“No, we’ve had a singer lined up for months… Her name’s Laura. She’s a friend of so-and-so…. Who told you that you’d be the singer?”
“Yeah, he told me that he’s been trying to find you and get the final okay from you.”
“Just a sec.” Sara covered the receiver and yelled over to Mike.
I couldn’t believe it: they worked in the same office! How could Mike have trouble finding her?!
Though her voice was muffled, I could hear her asking Mike about me. I couldn’t hear his reply. (How I wish I could have!)
“Well, uh, I guess, uh, you’ll have to plan on something else for that day. Mike will call you in a few minutes.” End of conversation.
I froze in my chair. My heart heated with a deadly mix of anger and hurt. I prayed.
My phone rang. Mike’s masculine voice ascended half of an octave… He’d been caught and he knew it.
“Hey, Stacie… There was a communication failure.”
“Yeah?” I answered softly, stiffly. Sounding like a fake, he went on to explain the unexplainable.
This world is full of fakes: faux fur, imitation brands, synthetic hair, fake tans, and copycat Christians.
Copycat Christians are actors. They’re impostors in costume. Enemies put on the costume of Christianity because it helps them get places. (i.e. Whenever public opinions dictate, some politicians pretend to be full of faith.) They walk around with the cross necklaces and dog-eared Bibles. They speak fluent Christianese (words and expressions commonly used within Christian groups). They flaunt “faith.”
They excessively highlight their Bibles. In fact, when they open their Bibles, the sheer fluorescent glow blinds us!
Copycat Christians anger me. They enrage you, too, right? After all, “Copycat Christians” make us wonder if everything we’ve believed in is fake.
But wait a second. How would you feel if someone assumed your identity? Pretend he/she stole your credit card and paraded around incognito as you. You’d be pretty mad.
Imagine how Jesus feels to see people pretending to claim His name. Hypocrisy is only a distraction from the devil.
Jesus hates hypocrisy. Yet He loves the hypocrites. He never promised that every person who claims to be a Christian really would be a Christian. He never said to look at Christians for proof of His trustworthiness. He told us to look to Him! (Remember: Christians aren’t perfect. They’re just saved sinners.)
I’ve seen people dump Christianity into a mental trash can because of Copycat Christians. I’ve seen them destroy families. And you’ve seen them offend people, too, haven’t you? We’ve all seen or heard of people like these:
- A high schooler joins a youth group, sees his youth group friends act nice at church but snobby at school, and drops out of the faith.
- A nice Christian kid goes to a Christian college, gets turned off by hypocrites, and returns home totally disillusioned with the faith.
- An adult goes through a rough string of hypocrites and hurts at church after church and decides to stop going anywhere.
- A senior citizen sends her savings to a TV ministry, the TV ministry goes belly-up, and the elderly woman, with empty pockets, becomes a disillusioned believer with an almost empty soul.
The difference between getting disillusioned by hypocrisy and conquering it is this: knowing Jesus personally. He’s the real deal.
Jesus hates hypocrisy more than we do! In fact, He told us a parable describing how much hypocrites are like weeds. Here’s what He said: "The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away…
"‘The owner's servants came to him and said, “Sir, didn't you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?”
"'“An enemy did this,” he replied.
"‘The servants asked him, “Do you want us to go and pull them up?”
"'No,' he answered, 'because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.'"
Jesus then explained what the parable meant in the following verses:
"‘…The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.
"‘As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father...’” (Excerpts from Matthew 13:24-30, 37-43, NIV.)
Weeds grow easily, multiply quickly, and live everywhere. They detract from beautiful gardens. They steal nutrients from the real flowers and desirable plants. Some, like dandelions, resemble flowers. They’re imposters.
There are and always will be weeds (Copycat Christians) who look just like Christians and live scattered throughout the entire world.
But people who pretend to be Christians aren’t the only ones that hurt us. Real Christians hurt us, too. We get hurt if we trust fellow believers more than Jesus.
Newsflash: When we rely on Christians too much, we will always be disappointed. But if we rely on Jesus, we will never be disappointed.
When we’re hurt by hypocrisy, we’re tempted to become bitter and not forgive.
How could we think that we deserve to hold grudges? We’re not better than God. He forgave us (believers)! The least we can do is to copy Him and forgive others.
Think about it: After God forgave us, how can we not forgive? (If you don’t know about God’s forgiveness, learn how to receive Jesus as your Savior: click here.)
We must forgive; otherwise, we become like what we hate. The venom of unforgiveness is as deadly to our souls as the hypocrisy that hurt our hearts.
Yes, people move, divorce, die, and disappoint us. But Jesus never will. (God said, “I the LORD do not change.” -Malachi 3:6, NIV) Unlike people, He is there for us whenever we need Him. He’s always there. He’s always there for you and me.
I know from experience. I know Jesus. I know He’s real. I’ve been injured by hypocrites, but I’ve been healed because of Jesus’ love.
So, have you, too, been bitten by the snake of hypocrisy? After the initial pain of the bite, have you felt the poison streaming through your veins? Here’s some anti-venom to save your heart from eventual paralysis: Jesus’ unlimited love.
Jesus’ love never changes. He loves you and me more than any person ever will. He loved you enough to die for you. He rose again and issued an invitation to you to join Him in Heaven: Will you accept it?
By the way, I later learned something about Mike’s organization: it publicly failed! I realize it now: God was watching out for me the whole time.
No matter what Copycat Christians do, He’s watching out for you, too.
Note from the Author:
Connected! isn’t a typical monthly column. Think of it as an e-mail. Feel free to reply. Reply to: firstname.lastname@example.org. After all, I want to be a friend and introduce you to my Best Friend, Jesus Christ. We’ll cover issues relevant to our generation. Most of all, we’ll connect with Christ. If you don’t know how to connect with Him yet, click here.
Stacie Ruth Stoelting and Bright Light Ministry share how to have victory over tragedies and trials. At 22, she already has experience: At 15, Stacie Ruth wrote Still Holding Hands: Bonus Tips for Caregivers & Tips for Helping Families Facing Alzheimer’s, depicting her grandparents’ romance, and victory over Alzheimer’s. Celebrities (i.e. Pat Robertson) endorsed it and/or Bright Light Ministry. At 20, she sang for President Bush. In dramatic programs for all ages, she speaks, acts, sings and entertainingly inspires. Now, she is writing books for teens (e.g. Catching Faith Stealers in the Act). Visit www.brightlightministry.com.
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