Artificial isn’t real
by Michael E. Brooks
“It happened in the fifth year of King Rehoboam that Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem, and took away the treasures of the house of the Lord and the treasures of the king’s house; he took away everything. He also took away all the gold shields which Solomon had made. Then King Rehoboam made bronze shields in their place” (1 Kings 14:25-27, NKJV).
My wife brought her breakfast bowl of oatmeal to the table, added sweetener and butter, then complained, “Artificial just isn’t the real thing.” The sweetener was not real sugar and just did not make the cereal taste as good.
Well, that is the definition isn’t it? Artificial means just that–this is something else, it is not the original natural product.
We get that, right?
Well, maybe not. In today’s pursuit of lower prices (not to mention many other goals), there are many products which are advertised as “just as good” as the original dependable standby.
Some may actually measure up, but many are just artificial substitutes, lacking some irreplaceable quality of the original.
I have always been amused (and a little irritated) by advertisements such as “Genuine faux pearls!” Read that again. The advertiser is admitting, “these really are fakes.”
And that is supposed to make us want to buy them? The ploy is obvious. He hopes the reader’s eye will catch and be held by the word genuine, and not notice, or not understand, the foreign term meaning fake.
Are we that easily fooled? Advertisers think we are, or at least enough are that such tactics are successful. As always, “Let the buyer beware.”
Unfortunately the same tactic is often found in spiritual matters. Television evangelists searching for high ratings and financial gain preach a popular message of cheap religion.
Don’t bother about going to church, obeying the gospel, or serving the Lord. Simply tune in to the broadcasts, receive some feel-good entertainment and, if you can, send in a donation.
That seems to be all many expect or want. The numbers of such programs in recent decades is evidence enough that many are satisfied with this brand of religion.
But that is far from what Jesus taught.
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father in heaven.” (Matthew 7:21).
Jesus demanded obedience to the word and will of God.
“If you love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15).
An occasional prayer or sermon is not enough. Man is to live by “every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).
Christians are to observe all the commandments which Jesus gave to the apostles (Matthew 28:20), and that they recorded in the New Testament.
When Egypt invaded Judah and took away the gold shields made by Solomon, King Rehoboam made substitutes to replace them. The new shields were made of brass–the kingdom had no more gold.
Brass is not gold–pure and simple. The new shields did not impress like Solomon’s did. Rehoboam’s kingdom was vastly inferior to his father’s, and the shields he displayed were testimony to that fact. They were artificial–not the real thing.
Yes, sometimes modern technology can improve upon the natural. But when a substitute is offered to make a product cheaper, quicker, or easier to produce, the difference is almost always obvious.
Nowhere is this more true or more important than in religion. Let us go back to the original, and be genuine Christians, accepting only that which is found in the Bible–the real thing.