Our horse Peppy, barn cat Eric Liddell and I have a morning ritual. I show up and feed Eric, put a halter on Peppy and lead her over to the pasture where I set her free to spend a good part of her day grazing. Afterward, Eric magically appears and I pick him up and carry him back to the barn. He loves to be held and petted and would have me spend my entire day sitting on a bale of hay doing just that; but this day something was off from the moment I scooped him up. He was edgy and tense and dug his long, sharp claws into the palm of my hand, drawing blood. Surprised by this, I dropped him to the ground scolding and as he skulked off, I asked myself, “What just happened here?”
I returned to the house to disinfect and bandage the wound and went about my day. Later that same morning I headed back to the barn to get the lawn mower and noticed Eric lying near the back tire sunning himself. I called his name and as I walked toward him, he jumped up and ran across the empty horse lot. I could not for the life of me understand what on earth was going on with my normally friendly cat. I followed, calling him by name. Finally, he stopped and lay down on a patch of grass near a grain bin. I sat down too not far from where he was to let him come to me, continuing to call his name. It was then I noticed something moving off to my left. Turning I was stunned by what I saw, the real Eric Liddell walking towards me! He knew his name and his masters voice and he came when called. Then it hit me, this other cat, this impostor, this poser, was the cat who clawed me, not the real Eric Liddell! I was, for one of the few times in my life, speechless! The two cats were identical; they were exactly the same size and the same color. This impostor looked just like my cat! But he wasn’t my cat.
He’s not the only phony around. In fact, the oldest impostor has been around since the dawn of time.
I find it fascinating in Genesis chapter three Adam and Eve weren’t afraid of the very first impostor, the serpent. In the Biblical narrative the deceiver appears to be someone they both knew and trusted who tempted them into playing God. At first blush deciding for themselves what was good and evil didn’t seem like a big deal. I think the words he used were, “Did God really say?”
Until it was a big deal. In fact, the decision they made to disobey God was the second biggest game changing deal in all of history. It was, after all, the decision that caused all of mankind and creation to fall from grace. The choice that placed the entire universe and each one of us who were to follow after under a curse, the curse of sin (rebellion against and separation from God) and death. It was a bad deal. And still is, a very bad deal.
It’s not like they (we) weren’t warned.
“You will surely die” is a pretty clear.
The reality is that The Satan is The Tempter and he doesn’t usually come knocking dressed in ugly. The choices we constantly face, to obey God or to go our own way almost always come packaged pretty nicely, often closely resembling the real thing. But they aren’t the real thing; but instead a distorted reflection of the real thing. A few examples might include confusing lust with love, shaming with discipline or doing whatever we want (autonomy) with freedom. Who we listen to, look at and follow matters; and for much of my life I couldn’t see the enemy because I was too busy running with others who were also running with the Impostor. The enemy my soul (and yours) still uses the same old disguises century after century and we keep falling prey to the same old bait and switch schemes.
What’s a body to do?
If you don’t claim to follow Jesus, I can’t help you other than to say look at the evidence and give Jesus, who is the real deal a chance. However, if you have said yes to Jesus listen up. Following Jesus has plastered a target on your back and now that you are no longer running side by side with that fallen former angel of light, he will come after you because he despises nothing more than obedience to the one true God. He will go to any length to keep you where he is, trapped in bondage and misery. And like the cat who looked just like my cat, but wasn’t my cat, he will leave you scratched, bleeding and asking yourself, “What just happened there?” The Apostle John summed up what the Impostor’s wardrobe looks like:
“For all that is in the world, the lust of eyes, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. “1 John 2:16
The wolf in sheep’s clothing comes only to steal, kill and destroy, but Jesus came to show us the way, provide the truth and give us life. And we will know who we are following by the fruit we produce. Those who know the Master’s voice will come when He calls us to virtue not vice; peace not strife; truth not falsehood; joy not sorrow; love not lust; kindness not cruelty; unity not division. Jesus didn’t come to make us good, which is one of the biggest lies we fall for, because I will never be good enough to earn my way to God. He came to restore our relationship with the God of the Universe and to resuscitate us from death to life through his life, death on the cross and resurrection, which is the number one biggest game changing event to ever happen to this planet.
The look alike Eric Liddell hung around for a while and was gone later that same day. He showed up one more time a few days later and hasn’t returned. And Paul reminds us that if we resist the devil, he will flee from us. As I follow Christ, each day the impostor in me dies a little more and the new me raises to new life in Christ a wee bit more. Nothing more authentic than that.
And that my friends, gives us every reason to want to:
Be joy filled always,
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