Today’s Reading: 2 Peter 1
A young man was at the zebra enclosure at the Cairo International Garden municipal park and noticed something wrong about the zebras. When he took a closer look, he became convinced that the animals being touted as zebras were actually donkeys painted to look like zebras. He took a photo and posted his accusation on Facebook.
The photo gained the attention of a local news team, who contacted a veterinarian, who claimed that zebra snouts are usually black, and their stripes are more consistent and uniform compared to the striping on the animal in the photo which also sported black smudging around the face. A zoo in Gaza also received similar accusations of donkey-painting in 2009. The zoo claimed they did it because of an Israeli blockade that prevented the zoo from purchasing actual zebras.
Do you know what a knockoff is? It’s the counterfeit of an expensive brand of anything. There are knockoff watches, pens, purses, sunglasses, almost anything. They have the same markings, and the same logo, and the same colors, but they are the cheap versions of designer pieces. You buy them on the street instead of in the store. A knockoff Rolex is about $15. A knockoff Montblanc pen is about $10. A knockoff Coach purse is about $25. The knockoff has the same outward markings but lacks the craftsmanship. Knockoffs are exposed by time and use.
If it’s real, it lasts.
If it’s real, it can endure.
If it’s real, you’ll know it because it doesn’t diminish even when it faces harsh circumstances.
In today’s chapter, Peter has something significant to say about the real thing. He starts off with comparing his faith and the new church’s faith, which is separated by decades: “Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:1).
He is writing to Christians who “received a faith of the same kind as ours.” These words are significant. This epistle was written in AD 68, and Peter’s time with Jesus was in the late AD 20s. Some forty years later, Peter makes this bombshell statement—that these believers’ faith is the same kind as his. Think of this. He is telling them that they have the real thing, not some knockoff or second-rate faith.” Think too of who is saying this. It is someone who talked with Jesus, saw His miracles, witnessed the transfiguration (Peter speaks about that at the end of this chapter), saw Christ die, saw Him after He rose again, ate a fish dinner with Him, and saw Jesus taken up in the ascension. And he tells these Christians forty years later that their faith in Jesus and his faith in Jesus is the same!
When I was a student at Baylor University, I did not have a lot of spending money. My father sent me $75 a month. I remember all these students walking around campus with Ralph Lauren Polos, and I desperately wanted one. The problem was that I did not have $32 to buy one. Then one day, I saw a guy selling knockoff Polos on a street corner in Waco, Texas. They were only $5.
Now I get to be like everyone else, I thought, as I forked over $5 for a knockoff purple Polo. I noticed that the rider of the horse and the horse itself were slightly detached, but hey, it was only $5! I wore my Polo one day and then washed it. It went from a Large to a 2T. The wash shrunk it.
When it’s real, it lasts. When it’s real, time is not an enemy. It is a revealer.
Peter’s and these Christians’ faith are real. It can go through hard times, denial times (Peter knows about that), scared and cowardly times (Peter knows about that), and still come out the same. Hard times, harsh circumstances, persecution, tribulation—none of these will be able to take away that faith when it’s real. And if anyone should know, it’s Peter.
Peter knows it’s the same because these Christians are going through the persecutions of Nero. They are faced with death, and yet their faith stays intact. That’s the same kind of faith.
Two thousand years later, the faith that you and I have in Jesus Christ is the same as the apostle Peter’s in the first century. Time doesn’t shrink it or change it. It just reveals if it’s real. We have a real faith that can and has stood the test of time.
No knockoff. We have the real thing.
We don’t have to paint the donkeys. We’ve got the real zebras. We’ve got real faith.