Once upon a time there was a flood of counterfeit money throughout the land. There was so much of it, and it became so common, that the public began using it as regular currency. At first, merchants refused the counterfeit currency, but eventually, so many people accepted it that the merchants and banks said, “OK. Who are we to disagree with the public?”
The counterfeit bills were easily distinguished from real currency – IF a person bothered to look closely. Even a child could tell the difference. But the counterfeits were a pleasure to look at. The counterfeit bills were works of art that earned the praise of engravers and artists. They were popular with everyone.
The federal government agency that produced real money wondered what they should do. Some wanted to make their money more like the counterfeit bills, but others insisted that real money should be as different as possible. The first group won out, and soon real money began to be indistinguishable from counterfeit, and no one really cared about the difference any more.
So should we be all that surprised that one day, someone came to the mint and complained about a genuine $20 bill being fake?
Now there is a parable that can be applied to any number of things: the popular understanding of marriage, love, art, music, entertainment, spirituality, even worship of God. How readily we settle for, and soon even begin to celebrate, an imitation of the real thing.
Jesus tells us, “Be perfect just as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt. 5:48). He doesn’t want us to have to settle for anything less than perfect love, ultimate joy, and life to the full.
Throughout Lent pay attention to whomever or whatever is trying to get you to lower your standards or to accept, especially in the spiritual life, that which has been watered-down, compromised, or cheap. If you bother to look closely, even a child can tell the difference.
God wants you to know the genuine thing. Lent is a time of denial, yes. But I’d rather say “no” to a hundred counterfeits if only I could have but one moment with the real thing. It’s so worth it.
Strive on toward all that truly inspires and lastingly awes!