Plastic People

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Every generation rejects fakeness.

“Plastic” refers to the girls who go for plastic surgery to achieve an ideal look. In the process, we see a generation of American girls asking for plastic surgery as their 18th birthday presents. We find Korea leading the charge in perfecting female beauty, and today, beautiful Korean girls look strangely similar. China’s women will not be left behind and China’s “surgeons” compete on price. Singapore girls lament we lose out. But really? Is plastic that desirable?

The plastic face is nothing compared to the tsunami of plastic lives. The plastic is promoted by Facebook. We use it to tell the world, “Look at my perfect, wonderful I am.”

I know it is easy to be ashamed of our imperfections.

There was a seminary student who listened to me preach and afterward, he expressed his appreciation, not only for the sermon but for the candor, and the personal imperfections that come through. To him the imperfections make me real and lovable. He had intended it to be a compliment, but I was uncomfortable with his remark. This was more than 10 years ago, but I remember it because I ask myself why I am embarrassed by my distinctiveness. I know I enjoy the distinctiveness of my family members, their imperfections that make them unique. A mole here, a wrinkle there, a dimple, a funny gesture, etc.

God in his perfect wisdom makes us different—mild imperfections to make us more lovable.

The church is the bride of Christ. Each local church is also a bride of Christ. Every woman is blessed with imperfections that make her perfectly desirable to her husband. Every local church is blessed with imperfection to better enjoy the love of Jesus Christ our Lord.

When the church was born, the Christians were so excited about what God was going to do through them that many sold all they had and gave it to the common purse to feed the many needy people. Naturally, the people who did that were recognized and held up as examples of faith and generosity. Ananias and his wife Sapphira also sold their immoveable assets and claimed they too join those who surrendered all to the work of the Kingdom of God. But in truth, they hid some of that money for themselves.

They did not have to hide anything. There is no dishonor in not giving everything. But they wanted the praise of man for giving everything when they did not. They lied as though there is no God in heaven watching over their actions. And they were struck dead. For all their profession of faith and generosity, they didn’t seem to think it mattered that they sought the praise of man by lying to God.

The church was going through explosive growth. That was a good thing. But there was one problem that God considers more important than making ever more disciples – it was the making disciples who are real. We are not given the ability to judge the hearts of men, only God has that ability. We have no ability to judge hypocrisy, pretense, even self-deceptive spirituality. Ananias and Sapphira were wonderful people as far as we can tell. But God wanted a lesson to go out into the new community.

Here is the Good News of the Kingdom of God in Jesus Christ. While the disciples did not know if the new disciples were frauds, God knew. And just as surely, God knows today, he knows on the judgement day when he brings in his kingdom to its full extent. So let all who wish to enter the kingdom of God know this: God knows your heart. You don’t have to be perfect—just don’t be plastic. You can appear wonderful to everyone, but God will hold your pretense to account.

I am surprised at the importance God placed on honesty-integrity in the church. We live in a world that looks at the bottom-line of donation given by Ananias and Sapphira, and say a little undeserved glory is surely not too bad. But the Holy Spirit of God sets the standard here. We can be honestly imperfect. But God does not accept the dishonestly perfect.

The plastic face is only a chasing for a beauty that fades;, but the plastic life is a far more dangerous thing. Jesus said, “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs—beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with dead people’s bones and all sorts of impurity.” (Matthew 23:27).

The dirty, smelly, imperfect Sabbath keeping people of the land have hope because they are real. The plastic Pharisees are in a moral tailspin because their external perfection hides a rotting evil inside that they themselves can neither smell nor see.

Maybe, we should not be too surprised that the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ applied judgment on the plastic couple since Jesus Christ himself condemned the same when he walked this earth.

Pastor Peter Eng

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