How many have seen the BBC series Fake or Fortune? The basic idea behind the programme is very simple. Each week it spends an hour concentrating on one single painting to establish whether it is a genuine work by a major artist or not. It takes us into the rarified world of international art dealing and the arcane world of auction houses and galleries. But for all that, the actual analysis of the painting is genuinely fascinating. There is the opinion of the experts who take a good look at the picture and can tell just from their expert examination whether it is likely to the real deal or not. There is the scientific analysis of the paint and the canvas, as the tiniest details are subject to the most up-to-date methods of testing. And there is the historical analysis as the presenters try and recreate the trail from the time the painting leaves the studio to when it is acquired by the present owner.
In the my last post I argued that holiness is integral to our mission as a church. People are more likely to listen to our message when our words are backed up by an authentic lifestyle that speaks of the love of Christ. To put it another way, whether we like or not, they will be examining us to see whether we are fake or the real thing. A fake gospel is worthless; a genuine gospel message is priceless, and it is up to us to make the difference. And people will know firstly by taking a good look at our lives. When they decide to go deeper with us, they will secondly want to dig through the layers to know what are the motives and reasons of our hearts. And, thirdly, they will also want to know our story to see how the grace of Jesus Christ has made a real a difference.
After all, our calling is to bear the image of God (Col 3:10, 1 Cor 15:49). So what do people see when they look at us? That’s a question I believe we all need to think about.