My first year on the job, I caught a counterfeit case. Nothing crazy, just a guy who paid at a gas station with “funny money.” He used two 50’s which at first looked decent, but even a cursory examination found them faker than fake; you could even see the serrations on one corner where they’d been haphazardly cut.
I didn’t have enough to charge him (I couldn’t prove that he knew), but I collected them and turned them into The Secret Service, and even met an agent from their local field office. What I learned has stuck with me since.
“The key to spotting a fake,” he told me, “is knowing the real thing so well that the second you come into contact with a fake, you know it without thinking.” He explained that in training, currency agents spend so much time learning about and handling real US bills that they know them on a level bordering on intimacy. He went on to prove this by spotting a fake amongst a wad of real bills blindfolded, using only the slightest touch. It was really impressive.
But it was also really convicting. As a Christian, do I know the real Jesus so well, so intimately, that I can tell the difference between Him and all the counterfeits the world throws at me every day?
Two of my friends just decided they’re getting a divorce. They both used to be on fire for Jesus, but one has recently fallen away. The reason? In the last few years, there wasn’t enough time spent with the real Jesus, and so the fake ones of this world began planting seeds: of doubt, of confusion, and of many worldly philosophies that often lead to destruction. This friend recently renounced their faith, and the effects on their family are catastrophic.
Paul warns the Colossians about false teaching that was seeping into the church: “Philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition” [Colossians 2:8]. The threats were no longer just outside the church, but within; heresy had crept into the hearts and minds of believers – sound familiar?
Nothing’s changed since Genesis 3; we’ve only found slightly new ways to make the same mistakes.
Paul’s warning is the same for us today as it was for the saints of Colossae: Beware. False teaching is still everywhere, and we’re saturated by it every single day. But most of it isn’t overt; in fact, the danger is in its subtlety. Things which on the surface appear safe and benign are often lies just cleverly disguised as truth, and we’re all susceptible to them, just like my friend. The trick isn’t knowing the ins and outs of every lie – it’s in intimately knowing and holding close to the Truth.
The implicit key to Paul’s letter is discernment, the ability to judge well. As His followers, do we know Jesus so well, so intimately, that we can judge well when we come across a fake? When the world throws its latest trend, popular belief or philosophy, or the latest take on the same old heresy, have we spent enough time getting to know the real Jesus so that we can spot the fakes with our eyes closed? Are we that intimate with our Lord and Savior?
“And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” [John 17:3]
Ask yourself this (if you’re brave enough): Am I spending enough time with God? If not, how and where can I spend more? What are some things that I let get in the way, and how can I choose to remove them?
A Denver area police officer by night and avid fly fisherman by day, our Communications Director is an Army combat vet, former teacher and coach, and is a past contributor to HomeFront Magazine, 710 AM KNUS, and the Centennial Institute. When he’s not hanging with his family, catching bad guys, or knee deep in a trout stream, he’s looking for ways to leverage his own struggles with anxiety and PTSD to bring the love and hope of Jesus to fellow first responders and their families.