Have you noticed how sometimes two things can appear the same and dupe us into believing they actually are? If we believe it is X, we ascribe ALL the characteristics of what we perceive it to be.
One of the classic examples is that of the Monarch Butterfly and the Viceroy Butterfly. They look a lot alike and are an example of what is called “mutual mimicry” in nature.
Both butterflies are orange and black, but the Viceroy is smaller in size and has a darker orange color and shows a black line that crosses the hind wing. Astute nature lovers know there is one other characteristic that differentiates them. The Viceroy flaps its wings quickly and erratically while the Monarch tends to somewhat float. For most of us, it takes a bit for us to recognize which butterfly we are observing.
Another example that has gotten a lot of notice in recent years is found in the plant kingdom. Queen Anne’s lace and poison hemlock are both found along roadsides and ditches. Both are from the same family and have hollow stems and flowers that are white and bloom in an umbrella shape pattern. Even the leaves are so similar they are nearly indistinguishable. But distinguishing them is essential.
Queen Anne’s lace is lovely and often cut to add to wildflower displays. It is wild and the root is edible and grows in the same habitat poison hemlock does. But the poison hemlock is toxic to humans and pets and could take your life.
Another example of two things we assume are the same is Christendom and Christ. If we view them as identical, it can be easy for us to become disappointed and even disillusioned.
They are not the same.
Christ (Jesus) is perfect, Son of God and one with Him. He is loving, wise, discerning, and gracious. He sees us as individuals and knows us intimately. He is relational and longs for fellowship with us despite our humanity. He always speaks the truth and is Truth. He always operates in the light and is Light. He is humble always and seeks only our best. He is a champion of the weak, outcast, and downcast. He sees the heart, not the status, position, culture, education, or skill set of the person. To know Him is to have life.
Christendom is a system formed ostensibly to promote and maintain what Christ taught when He walked the earth and to always point us to God, the Father. It is a system we often identify that should be like Him. Because of that, we often choose to trust it without a great deal of thought. Then when it doesn’t seem to be quite like Him, we can go from puzzled to disappointed to disillusioned without a lot of time between each step.
That happens as well when anyone we have admired who is a part of Christendom walks away from belief in Christ or has a major moral failure of any type.
We forget that the system of Christendom is made up of our fellow man (much like us) flawed and shot through with imperfection even on our best days.
As any human system, as it develops over time it acquires more power and structure. It’s not hard to see why it is needed, but it also seems to create a great opportunity for Satan to sabotage and use it to seduce us away from looking at Christ first because sometimes our ears can be tickled by hearing what we would like to hear or seeing what we want to see. Especially within western cultures fascinated by our model of success, we can get lost along the way and forget who and what we are following.
Satan would have us abandon Christ because Christendom has let us down or faltered. It’s little wonder he loves to complicate things further by fomenting divisions and dissensions in the midst of it all.
Does that mean we should take the bait and give up on the system known as Christendom?
No, but it does make clear that we need to follow what the writer of Hebrews makes plain:
“As for us, we have all of these great witnesses who encircle us like clouds. So we must let go of every wound that has pierced us,and the sin we so easily fall into. Then we will be able to run life’s marathon race with passion and determination, for the path has been already marked out before us.
2 We look away from the natural realm and we fasten our gaze onto Jesus who birthed faith within us and who leads us forward into faith’s perfection. His example is this: Because his heart was focused on the joy of knowing that you would be his, he endured the agony of the cross and conquered its humiliation, and now sits exalted at the right hand of the throne of God!”
Hebrews 12:1-2 (TPT)
It also means our first responsibility toward the leaders of ministries and churches in Christendom is to pray for them regularly, but also to love them as Christ would and hold them accountable when they start to deviate from who Christ is and what He looks like.
None of us should use his name when we look nothing like Him.