Genuine vs. Generic Religion
One of the definitions of "generic" is: of or relating to a non-specific group or class. An example would be tissue paper. When we have a runny nose we ask for a tissue paper. Sometimes we ask for a Kleenex. Kleenex has branded and copyrighted its product for years. Many companies and retailers make something very similar and use other names for it, but we have been so accustomed to using the specific brand name in a generic sense, that it does not matter if it is packaged under a store brand or competitors brand, we still use the term in a generic sense.
Drugs are marketed two ways. The genuine is a brand name for a specific drug. Some companies offer a generic name for pretty much the same drug. We have no problem with generic drugs as they are usually cheaper to buy. Many insurance companies will not pay for the brand name, but will cover the generic product. It may not matter to us because we want to get well, and it is usually less expensive.
A knockoff product is one which is designed to give the appearance of the real thing, but is cheaply made and usually sold really cheap. These products are usually illegal. But as long as you do not advertise them under a specific name, a purse is a purse, and a watch is a watch. How else could I afford to be seen wearing a Rolex watch or my wife carrying a purse that the original would cost a lot of money to buy?
That is how many people treat their religion. They want it to look, feel, and taste like the genuine article, but are content to not be that specific. When God is asking us to give Him our "whole" heart, it means that He wants every bit of our being involved in our worship and lifestyle. Too often, though, we give God a cheap knockoff of our self, because the real thing is so costly to us. And we do this for appearance sake.
We have adopted the mentality that anything that looks or feels like the real thing should be good enough.
Who decides what is "good enough" for God? The truth is that we decide what is "good enough" for ourselves. Sure, there are people who are genuine in their faith and practice of religion, but most people have gone with the cheap version. This cheap version looks like the real thing. It sounds like the real thing. It also feels like the real thing. But in reality, we have not given God the genuine service that He requests.
Too often our prayers are generic and not specific. Yes, there are times when we pray that it is appropriate to be generic. In the public assembly, the one leading the prayer asks for the remission of sins in a generic way. It might embarrass someone if we started listing specific sins that they have done. But when we pray in private, it needs to be as specific and genuine as possible. We teach our children the standard "now I lay me down to sleep..." but sometimes we do not grow out of the generic prayer. Often we just repeat what we always say and do not change the words or phrases we use. We all know someone who does this in public.
Let us make sure that our worship to God and the demonstration of our faith are the real thing. God reads our hearts and God knows the difference, and so should we.
By Carey Scott
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