But Jesus did not abhor wealth. He permitted Mary to use expensive perfume to anoint his feet. Why? Because it was an appropriate sacrifice considering everything that would happen soon.

Counterfeits are costly.

You can buy a Rolex watch on any street corner in New York City. It isn’t really a Rolex. You didn’t get a great deal, you got a cheap knock-off with a great brand name.

What about Kobe beef that you buy in America. The Japanese worked for generations to perfect the breed of animal and processing style to produce Kobe beef.

Many American restaurants offer Kobe beef. But it is just Kobe-like or Kobe-style. You can’t buy Kobe beef in America. But I bet the premium price you pay for the knock-off is still pretty impressive, even if the beef isn’t.

Others market Angus beef. Angus cattle are lovely animals. The jet-black coats look great in a show ring. But after you peel the skin back, the muscle and sinew is almost impossible to differentiate from a Short Horn or Charolais. You are buying a lot of sizzle when you pay more for those steaks.

But something tells me a lot of us are buying and selling a lot of sizzle every Sunday morning at churches across America. Some pastors teach that if you sew your money into their ministry, God will bless you with mansions and a Cadillac in every garage. It’s funny. Jesus never made any of the apostles rich. The blessings he gave weren’t deposited in banks.

Others are equally wrong with the new monastic Gospel teaching that we should sell all we have and give it to the poor. Jesus told the “rich young ruler” to do that, and he turned away sad because he had a lot of good stuff that he didn’t want to sell. So is the best way to pave a path to heaven is to be poor on purpose? I don’t think so.

Jesus knew this man’s heart, and he knew that his stuff was more important to him than his salvation. Jesus was proving that point.

The first commandment tells us that we are to have no gods before him. The rich young ruler had put his belongings before God. He didn’t have a money problem. He had a heart problem.

But Jesus did not abhor wealth. He permitted Mary to use expensive perfume to anoint his feet. Why? Because it was an appropriate sacrifice considering everything that would happen soon.

Without the tomb owned by Joseph of Arimathea, Jesus would have had nowhere to be lain during the time between his crucifixion and resurrection.
Joseph’s wealth was important to the process. That can be true today. Wealthy people contribute a great deal to supporting life-changing ministries.

The only caveat is that they have to be willing to use that wealth in the way God prescribes. As long as God maintains top billing, and that money is a tool used to build God’s kingdom, I don’t think a vow of poverty is necessary.

If we follow God, we will all be on different paths. I felt called to adopt a child from Ethiopia. God taught me to trust him, and the process increased my ability to trust that him even when everything didn’t make sense to me.
But I was never called to be a missionary in the inner city or the jungles of Papua, New Guinea.

Many of us will never know what we are called to do. We don’t listen for it or seek it.

Pastor Matt Chandler talks about how many people come to church every week with no desire to know God.

“We read the Bible like we read the newspaper,” he said. “We read and we read and we read. But we don’t digest. We don’t think. We don’t meditate. We don’t try to encounter the living God. We just read the thing like it’s a Grisham novel.”

He said many churches are more like a Rotary Club than a home for spiritual growth.

That’s a counterfeit faith that can cost you a lot of joy in your life.

“People are often drawn to counterfeit gospels,” Chandler said. “We accept cheap imitations of the truth. Why? Because they are easy and they cost us less. And they make us popular with people whose opinions matter to us.”

Don’t buy a faith that is no more genuine than a street corner Rolex or Kobe beef in America. Don’t spend your life seeking a better name for something that is no better than anything else once the shiny veneer is ripped off the outside.

Jesus said if we really seek him, we will find him. Never settle for a counterfeit version when the something real is within reach.