Who here likes wasabi? Who here even knows what wasabi is? It’s a spicy, green plant used in or with many Japanese foods like sushi, and chances are, you’ve never had the real thing. Only thirteen percent of wasabi is the real thing. Most is just horseradish colored green. And the reason that most is fake is that there just isn’t enough to go around. Wasabi is one of the hardest foods to cultivate. One plant takes fifteen months to grow. If there is too little sunlight, the plant won’t grow. Too much, and the plant withers and dies. Aso, the pure spring water that flows through the plants has to be 13-18 degrees Celsius.
In many ways, this is like denominations. Many churches claim to be the right church and make it look quite convincing. Others try to be right, often times trading out the truth for opinion. Matthew 24:24 says, “For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive”
We should also consider Psalms 18:30, which says “as for God, His way is perfect, the Lord’s word is flawless, He shields all who take refuge in Him.”
We have to be careful to make sure we as the church are teaching the truth, God’s perfect way, and are Wasabi in its pure form, and not Wasabi that is just green horseradish.
A few years back I started goose hunting and I found out something very interesting about myself. I like it a lot! They are exciting to hunt, easy to harvest the meat, and they are delicious when I smoke them into jerky. Many of you probably don’t understand the challenge and excitement involved since most of the time you could just grab one off the street and throw it into your car. But out in the open, where it’s legal to shoot them, it can be a real challenge.
In order to get flying geese to come in for a landing close enough to shoot them, there are two basic tactics. One is decoys. Geese want to join up with other geese, and if they see some on the ground it tells them that it is probably a good area to feed and that it’s safe. In order to fool them, your decoys need to look real, and mine look real. Anytime I leave my spot and return, I spend an embarrassing amount of time sneaking up on my own decoys. The second thing you need is to sound like a goose. Your call needs to be authentic. It needs to get their attention to draw them into the kill zone.
Many of you have already connected the dots in my story. It’s so simple really. It’s a do-it-yourself lesson. We need to be on guard as Christians so as not to be fooled or deceived by teaching that is not authentic, not the real deal. Teaching that may look and sound good, but will cost us our souls, can fool us.
But that’s not the lesson. I challenge myself and all of us to consider an even more sobering question. Have I become the decoy? Has looking and sounding like a Christian become enough for me? My calls are spot on. I can speak their language. My decoys look fantastic. They dutifully show up for every hunting trip. But they are not real, and they don’t move.
A real goose moves.
A real goose flies.
A real goose feeds.
A real goose is active all the time.
A real goose is busy being a real goose, all the time.
Read Matthew 25:34-36.
So are you, am I the real deal? It depends on what we do between “hunting trips.”
[Originally from Scott’s “90 Seconds of Power” devotional at Bear Valley]
While people today want to emphasize “spirituality” over “religion,” that is not the biblical way. By “spiritual,” people want to talk about a self-defined personal relationship with God, the way they feel, or their pursuit of some mystical or mysterious expression of the soul. The Bible is much less abstract and more concrete in passages like James 1:26-27, and the result should be quite convicting.
James indicates that one’s religion could be worthless (1:26). This one may even think himself to be religious, but instead he is a forgetful hearer. In context, he has forgotten what God’s word has said about bridling the tongue. But, the principle applies much more broadly. One can think himself religious, but in ignoring what the Bible says on a specific matter—ethics, morality, the plan of salvation, worship, etc.—this one deceives his own heart and possesses a worthless religion. Notice that there is a concrete, objective way to measure this.
James indicates that one’s religion can also be pure and undefiled (1:27). In keeping with context, this is a person who is a doer and not only a hearer of the word. This person consciously reads and strives to apply what God has said in Scripture. James gives a couple of examples of this in the verse, from compassionate care for the unfortunate to not allowing the world to taint us by its influence. Regardless of the challenge or obligation, because we strive to follow the Word, we will have a religion that is unsoiled and unsullied. James says so.
I may think I have a certain kind of religious, spiritual life, but the Bible is a mirror that shows me exactly where I am. I can claim or assert that I have a certain relationship with God or spiritual feeling, but does the declaration match the deeds. That determines what kind of religion I have.