People have many ideas about how to determine if someone is really a follower of Christ Jesus. And of course, if you happen to be a minister, the bar is set higher.  Some make that determination based on how big a church a pastor might have, or how many followers they have on Facebook, or how many times they’ve been on TV. Others might say, Wow, they’re really anointed; they have a jet (or more than one)!  Another might base their opinion on how many books they have published, or how many letters follow their name.  But does any of that matter to God?

Let me ask you; what criteria do YOU use to determine if someone is or is not a good representative of God?  Do the clothes qualify, or how about what they drive, or how big a home they live in? How about the “Follow me to church” bumper sticker?  Do you get goose bumps when they speak? What does it take to get you to say, “Now THAT person is of God”?

Man looks at the outer appearance, God looks at the heart.  There’s an old saying, “If it swims in the water, quacks like a duck, walks like a duck and looks like a duck, it must BE a duck.” But I find that is not always so, because looks can be deceiving.  Once I was in a craft shop and this man had a pet parrot. That parrot could quack like a duck, walk like one, and would even get in the water and swim.  Was it a duck? You tell me.  And it did a mighty fine chicken imitation, too, I might add. It would walk around like a chicken, scratch the ground with its feet, peck and cluck till I nearly laughed myself silly watching it. But it wasn’t a duck, and it wasn’t a chicken, it was just a reasonable facsimile thereof.

The point I’m trying to make is this: all we have to do is look in the Bible, and we will learn how to recognize the real deal from the fakes.  And believe me, there are many fake Christians out there.  “You shall know them by their fruits”.  I took the liberty of listing several scriptures below for your consideration:

Joh_13:34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.
Joh_13:35  By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
Joh_15:12 This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.
Joh_15:17  These things I command you, that ye love one another.
Rom_12:10  Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;
Rom_13:8  Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.
Gal_5:13  For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.
Eph_4:2  With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love;
1Th_3:12  And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you:
1Th_4:9  But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another.
Heb_10:24  And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:
1Pe_1:22  Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently:
1Pe_3:8  Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous:
1Jn_3:11  For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.
1Jn_3:23  And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.
1Jn_4:7  Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.
1Jn_4:11  Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.
1Jn_4:12  No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.
2Jn_1:5  And now I beseech thee, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment unto thee, but that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another.

So then, what must be the qualifier?  LOVE.  God is love, therefore if anyone is in Him, he or she must act like Him.  The one thing God looks for when He is looking for His “kids” is their love.  No love, then they aren’t HIS.  I don’t care what denomination you identify with, if there’s no love, there’s no claim from God that you are His, simple as that.  Now I realize we are  a work in progress, at least I am anyway,  and don’t have it down perfect, and perhaps you also find yourself lacking in love when compared to God.  When we look in the mirror, we shouldn’t feel guilty because we haven’t “arrived” yet, but we should be constantly striving to do a better job of loving others.  AND, loving ourselves, too, for there are too many heaping guilt upon themselves. And that isn’t what God wants His kids to do.

Just as we should be patient and kind toward one another, having fervent love toward one another, don’t forget YOU are also an object of God’s love. If you’re having difficulty in that area, this is for you!  Remember, God is patient.  In fact, He is more patient than anyone.  Though He wants us all to be conformed to the image of Christ Jesus (who is conformed to the image of His heavenly Father), He also knows we are only flesh, created in His image, yet He knows He has to wait for the fruit to appear, just as when we plant a fruit tree.  Now we don’t expect to stick the tree in the ground, and run to the house and get bushel baskets to gather up the fruit five minutes after planting it.  No, sometimes it takes a whole week.  Just joking there, friends.  But you get the idea.

You know a tree by the fruit, right?  Ok, can you identify every tree in the winter when there is neither leaf nor fruit on it?  That can be tricky at best. And even if WE can’t see the fruit getting ready to come out, God can.  I said, God can.  We should not be quick to judge others, or give up on them, but rather, our job is simply to love them as God loves them.  The LORD told me once that it’s something like fishing:  you catch ‘em, He will clean ‘em. Sounds like a good deal to me.  Touching on  something I said earlier, if you see yourself lacking in the love department, then get busy and work on it, because you don’t want someone looking at YOUR fruit and determining you’re just a fake Christian, do you?   God is looking for love, what is He seeing in you?  It’s not about how popular you are, how much money you have,  how you dress, how many friends you have on Facebook, or what you drive or where you live, or even if you’re a TV or Radio personality or not, or if you have a jet or two (or three or four).  It’s about how you love.  And we need to love others with the same love that Jesus loves them.  Is it hard to do that?  Well, you can’t with YOUR love, you need GOD’S love to do it, but He will give it to you if you ask.

It’s easy to be deceived by the fakes, they look good, smell good, say all the right things, but it’s the lack of LOVE that gives them away every time.  So how do you know iif you’re looking at the real thing?  Look for fruit, and make sure that fruit is love.  And if you don’t find any?  Give them some of YOURS!