A few years ago I read an intriguing book by Ed Gungor, a pastor from Oklahoma. The book is called Religiously Transmitted Diseases: finding a cure when faith doesn’t feel right. In his book, Ed tells the story of going to a lady’s house with his mother and seeing a bowl of delicious grapes on the table. When his mom and the lady went into another room, Ed grabbed one of the grapes and popped it into his mouth. As he began to chew, he quickly realized something was wrong with this good looking grape. It was a rubber grape - a fake grape. He’d never seen one before.
Ed said, “I think lots of people in Christian life and ministry are putting out rubber grapes. They used to have real ones; but no longer. The fakes look good - perfect really, but they go ‘errugh-uh’ when you try to chew on what they have to offer, and they have zero nutritional value. Even good fakes are still fake.”1
“Even good fakes are still fake.” Let that sink in for a moment. “Fake joy. Fake praise and worship. Fake ministry. Fake smiles. Fake love. Fake brokenness. Fake expressions. Fake concern. Fake holiness. Fake life.”2 Rubber Christians and rubber Christianity help no one and always leave a bad taste in others’ mouths.
There once was a commercial with a guy who said, “I’m not a real doctor. I just play one on TV.” A lot of people who call themselves Christians would never admit it, but there are a multitude who, if they were honest would have to say, “I’m not a real Christian. I just play one on Sundays.” The real fruit of their lives isn’t. It’s fake. It’s all for show.
Pastor Gungor goes on to say, “When I survey most of the followers of Jesus I know (even leaders), they seem less like innocent kids having a blast on a playground or in a pool on a hot summer afternoon, and more like zombies from Night of the Living Dead; they are moving, but it ain’t pretty. Where is the abundant life Jesus talked about (John 10:10 KJV)?”3
Ironically, it’s the “rubber brothers” and “synthetic sisters” among us who almost always put on the best show. “Like the Wizard in Wizard of Oz, they hide behind a curtain and pull levers that make themselves appear larger-than-life on a big screen.”4 They sing and shout and dance about with a flair and finesse that fools the best of us. It looks so real, so authentic, so spiritual. But the truth is, if you bite them, watch out. It won’t be Jesus oozing out. The fruit’s fake, and you’re going to end up with a bad taste in your mouth.
Why are we so quick to settle for synthetic substitutes when we can have the real thing? The bananas on the counter in our home are the real deal and quite often I rip one open and not only enjoy the fruit but the benefits that come from eating it.
Most people I know got rid of rubber fruit a long time ago. So, if we don’t allow fake fruit in our homes anymore ...
... why do we still allow it in our hearts?
© 2014. Barry L. Cameron.
“Taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8).
1. Ed Gungor, Religiously Transmitted Diseases: finding a cure when faith doesn’t feel right (Nashville, TN: Nelson, 2006) 169.
2. Gungor 168-169.
3. Gungor 168.
4. Gungor 170.
Barry L. Cameron has been the Senior Pastor of Crossroads since 1992 when the church was averaging 188 in morning worship. Pastor Cameron and his wife, Janis, have three children and two grandsons. He’s the author of the bestseller: The ABCs of Financial Freedom, Contagious Generosity, and The Financial Freedom Workbook. The Cameron family has been completely debt free since November 2001.