Here’s a news item that I stumbled upon a while back:
“A bus carrying five passengers was hit by a car in St. Louis, but by the time police arrived on the scene, fourteen pedestrians had boarded the bus and had begun to complain of whiplash injuries and back pain.”
As a former St. Louisan, I wasn’t really surprised by this story. In fact, my first thought was “golly, I wonder how many of them were City employees?” (I’m so proud of myself for not naming the names that came to mind…)
Here’s an interesting point to ponder: Lets say that YOU are the investigating officer at the scene of this little mishap. You know that there were originally only 5 passengers, but now 19 people are claiming to have been on the bus, and suffering injuries. How do you tell who are the real passengers, and who are the fakes?
While you’re thinking that through, lets draw a parallel. I wish that it were not so, but there are fakes in the Body of Christ. They’re hard to see sometimes, because they know all the lingo and they look just like everyone else, but, they just don’t ring true.
There are extremes, to be sure—like the radio preacher who was seen opening a large pile of envelopes at the post office, taking out the money, and throwing the letters away, while commenting to an associate on his way out, “this is a hell of a way to make a living, ain’t it!”
But, the impostors in the Body aren’t always so obvious. Some of them are on the bus, and look just like the rest of the passengers, but they’re trying to “piggyback” on someone else’s fare. I remember riding on the Metrorail in St. Louis, and seeing the security guy pass through checking to make sure that everyone had a ticket. If you didn’t, you were escorted off the train at the next stop. It didn’t matter if your friend had a ticket, or your spouse had a ticket, you had to have your own ticket. While you might be able to get away with it for a while, without that ticket, you’ll be ejected before you get to your destination.
Now, back to that bus story. The investigating officers will determine who are the real accident victims and who are the fakes by careful examination of each person. There will be medical examinations, to show if they have any actual injuries, and detailed questioning regarding where they were going on the bus, where they got on, and verifying that information. Upon closer examination, the difference between the real and the fake always becomes apparent.
In Second Corinthians 13:5, Paul advises us to “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves!” This isn’t meant to rob believers of the assurance of their salvation. Rather, it encourages us to evaluate our lifestyle and values based on the standards of the scriptures. If our lifestyle is inconsistent with the message of the Gospel, there is room to ask an important question:
“Am I really following Christ, or am I faking it?”