At the house where my wife grew up there is an old-fashioned clothesline to which are attached clothespins of various colors, including some that are reddish-pink. My brother-in-law, who now lives in the house, tells about hummingbirds that sometimes buzz the clothespins, thinking the pins are flowers or a feeder.

Dumb birds, we say; can’t tell the difference between a plastic pin and a flower, just because they’re the same color.

But are we really so different sometimes? Aren’t we easily fooled, too? We’re taken in by so much in our culture that promises to satisfy us or looks like the answer we’re been seeking. Try this, do that. Buy a product, look a certain way, get the right job, believe a doctrine, and we’ll be satisfied. But as Scripture says in 2 Corinthians 11, where Paul is talking about deceitful pseudo-apostles: “Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is not strange if his ministers also disguise themselves as ministers of righteousness. Their end will match their deeds.”

There’s a lot of inauthenticity and empty promises and fakery out there in the church. To me, the tests we can and should apply as we seek to discern whether a community that purports to be a community of faith is a flower and not a clothespin come from Acts 2:42: “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” The apostles’ teaching focused on Jesus, their fellowship on inclusive love, their breaking of bread on celebrating the presence and gifts of the risen Lord, and their prayers on connecting with the Source of all. That’s a church worth our involvement, a community that will nourish us.

The hummers were taken in for a moment by the clothespin, but flew away then to the feeder. I pray that we, too, will reject the fakes quickly and fly away always to Jesus, the Bread of Life, the Cup of Salvation.

© 2007 by Tom Cheatham