can anybody say "knock off"…

First things first… compare these two videos…

Alright… so… any questions?

Well, I have to admit something first: I am a Mac guy. I love my old school Powerbook, I have more iPods than I care to admit, and darn it, Macs are just cooler. Now, all you PC people out there, don’t be haters… that’s not my point, just a little self-disclosure. The point is, that when I first saw the very first iPhone commercial I was blown away… not by the phone itself (I already knew a ton about the iPhone before the commercials started running), but by the sheer simplicity of the commercials. Solid black. Single hand. Product demonstration.

When I saw the Palm Centro commercial, I was also blown away… by the blatant ripping off of an idea. I guess it is a bit different. I mean, the background is blue, not black, and the screen of the phone is smaller. And the song is not identical… (insert sarcastic tone and look here) I suppose. Just to be clear, I am not knocking the Palm Centro phone per se. It’s cool. But the commercial is an obvious rip-off.

But the thing about rip-offs is that you can only tell something is phony compared to the real thing. If I had never seen the iPhone commercial I would have no frame of reference to know the Centro one was a knock-off version. That’s the same sort of thing we have to watch out for in our Christian walks… false teachings are everywhere, and if we are not ready to compare them to the real thing, we are bound to get sucked in. In Paul’s ministry, he was constantly dealing with churches that were being duped by something other than the real thing. He warns the Ephesians like this…

we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. 15Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. Ephesians 4:14-15 (NIV)

This theme is prevalent over and over in Paul’s letters… he says, “Grow up and quit messing around with things that just aren’t true!”

The question always comes up though, “How do I know if something is false?” Well, in the context of Ephesians, Paul gives his readers some pretty practical advice. If you want to know if something is false or not get yourself in a community of Christian believers you trust, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Those communities are called churches. The real problem comes into play in identifying which churches are really churches… The unfortunate thing is there are a lot of groups out there that call themselves Christians but they’re the knock-off version, but the true, ancient church had a way to identify real believers from false ones. The way was the creed. The oldest of these is the Apostles’ Creed and it is just a statement of what Christians ought to believe.

I believe in God, the Father Almighty,
the Creator of heaven and earth,
and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord:

Who was conceived of the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried.

The third day He arose again from the dead.

He ascended into heaven
and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty,
whence He shall come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Christian church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and life everlasting.

There are other creeds, of course, but for nearly 2000 years this has been the an anchor to help Christians of every age determine real churches and real Christians from the knock-off. Remember, even Jesus said not everyone who says they’re a believer really is one.

21 “Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. 22 On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ 23 But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’ Matthew 7:21-23 (NLT)

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