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Fake FaithFake Faith
by Cary Branscum

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    Step right up! It’s the real deal! Get it while it’s hot, it’s the genuine article. A can’t miss opportunity at a once in a lifetime offer.

    We live in a time when everybody wants our attention, and they always promise something unique, special, and REAL.

    Some years back, I bought an old bowie knife for a few dollars at a yard sale. Sitting by a Fall campfire, I began to scrape rust and grit off the blade of my yard sale treasure. My eyes widened as I read the inscription Original Bowie Knife. Hey! A treasure! Then I chuckled to myself. You know, an original bowie knife would not have Original Bowie Knife inscribed on the blade.

    It is SOOOO tough these days to find the genuine article.

    I want to tell you about Fake Faith. The problem with fake faith is this; it seems so real and convincing, it looks almost identical to Real Faith. In Matthew 13:24-30, Jesus gives a parable of an enemy sowing fake wheat seed in a field already sown with real wheat seed. In some translations, the word is translated as “weeds,” but a Greek dictionary defines the word as “darnel, or false grain.” The owner’s servants ask to pull up the fake wheat, but they are told to let both grow together till the harvest, because in their efforts to uproot the fake wheat, they might uproot the real wheat as well.

    I certainly don’t want to uproot Real Faith! I DO, however, want to warn you against Fake Faith. I can tell you from personal experience how damaging it can be.

    Fake Faith is putting our beliefs, our feelings, our hopes, and dreams into something that is wrong, mistaken, or not true. The consequences can be devastating. Let me first describe what Fake Faith is, and then describe how it progressively chokes out Real Faith.

What is Fake Faith?

    We all enjoy God’s blessings. Beginning with the gift of life itself, we enjoy God’s blessings everyday. As Christians, we enjoy salvation in Christ Jesus, and we read with joy all the Bible passages that talke about blessings and success.

    So what’s wrong with that?

    Absolutely nothing. The Bible is filled with verse after verse promising God’s blessings upon his children. Here’s our problem; subtly, slowly, maybe even without our awareness, we begin to move toward Fake Faith.

Fake Faith begins when we value the Blessings more than the Blessor.
    Fake Faith begins when we value the Blessings more than the Blessor; when we seek the Gifts and not the Giver; when we begin to see God as just one more marvelous resource on the way to our own personal definition of success and the Good Life.

    Fake Faith has happened to me, and I am not the only one. I learned to serve God because he would give me rewards and success. Who wouldn’t follow with all those promises?

How does Fake Faith choke out Real Faith?

  1. We serve God and give him praise and honor and glory while we enjoy His Blessings. This is all well and good. We live to praise Him!

  2. At some point, however, we slip over the line and begin to lose interest in a relationship with God. Instead, we focus on enjoying the Blessings, we focus on success. God becomes just another tool to get to the blessings.

  3. Slowly, we lose interest in doing those things that are part of a relationship with God. We lose interest in prayer, except in emergencies or to petition God for more blessings. We begin to expect the blessings all the while ignoring our personal relationship to our Father.

  4. God essentially becomes a blessing resource, another self-help technique, another tool for the Good Life, however we define it.

  5. Then something happens! The blessings come, but not as much as we want, or need, or feel entitled to receive. And here’s the tough part; bad things happen in our lives and in the lives of others we love. Trauma, job loss, death, financial reversal, the unrelieved suffering of innocent people is suddenly all around us. Something is wrong! God is not living up to his end of the deal. Maybe we don’t have enough faith, maybe we’re doing something wrong. Maybe God is trying to teach us a lesson

  6. We experience dissappointment and anger at God. Why isn’t he fixing our problems? Why doesn’t he relieve this suffering? Is he punishing me? Doesn’t He care about me? Doesn’t He love me? Why is he just letting this all happen.

  7. We become cynical, embittered people, perhaps we even doubt God’s very existence. Perhaps we’ve been living for Him for nothing. Perhaps we’ve been knocking on Heaven’s Door, but no one is home. In fact, we begin to wonder if anyone has ever been home. God and all religion are simply an ancient human projection in our cynical and embittered mind.

    Of course you realize there is Real Faith. Perhaps you’ve recognized your own experience with Fake Faith. In Part II, you’ll see how to experience Real Faith on your journey, and how good it will feel to see Fake Faith growing ever more distant in your rearview mirror. More later. But, in the wait, hang on to one thought: don’t exchange relationship with God for Fake Faith. And, if you find yourself caught in Fake Faith, don’t give up on finding God. There is a way home to faith and to the Father!

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      ©2002, Cary Branscum. Used by permission.

      Title: "Fake Faith"
      Author: Cary Branscum
      Publication Date: July 2, 2002

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Cary Branscum, <cary@westover.org>, is the Singles minister at the Westover Hills Church of Christ in Austin, Texas. For more info, click here.


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