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Knock Off of the Original

 Acts 2:42 “They devoted themselves to the apostles teachings, to the breaking of bread and to prayer…”

One of the fun things about living in Malaysia was being able to experience the different cultures. From the variety of foods to the many shopping opportunities. Malaysia is a very diverse country with a lot of opportunities to see, hear and smell a variety of cultures in one country. One place I used to enjoy going and would always bring friends who visited to, was Petaling Street. Petaling Street was about 4 blocks of shopping, but it was fair style. There were booths lined up and down the streets with food vendors, jewelry sales, clothes and pursues, lots and lots of purses. Then men on Petaling Street loved seeing a white person come down the street, for they were convinced we were tourists with money, so the prices would be jacked up way beyond the asking price for the locals. I lived there, so I knew what was going on, so when they tried to jack the price, by speaking in the local language, I would speak the language in return and then say, alright now, let’s talk local prices. For my American friends, it is similar to Tijuana in many ways, where you can bargain the price.

Petaling Street is famous for having knock off merchandise. Coach purses, Louis Vuitton wallets, Rolex watches, Nike tennis shoes, Beats headphones, and to the naked eye you may think they are real, but the price gives them away. They may start off saying they want 250 Malaysian Ringgitt, which is about $75 USD for a Coach pursue, but you can get them down to as low as 50 Malaysian Ringgitt if you know how to talk yourself into a more appropriate price range. Half the fun of shopping there is getting the price to where you want to pay. Some people won’t change their price, others will go really low, but if you walk away, I promise they will lower the price to keep you in their shop. You see there is about 6 items for sale on Petaling Street, but 4 blocks of shops. You can buy watches, sunglasses, purses, clothes, shoes or food. Every stall sells the same thing, so they want to lower the price to keep you coming back to their stall.

The problem with Petaling Street is, everything they sell is a knock off of the original that is why they can lower the price. It looks original, it can feel original, and many people believe it is original, that is why they pay 250 Malaysian Ringgitt, when it is worth less than 50 Malaysian Ringgitt. But when you get home and you use your pursue, watch, wallet, whatever, for a couple weeks, it begins to fall apart and you realize you were duped or you don’t care, for you know you get what you pay for. Then you go into KLCC, which is a high end shopping center in Malaysia and you enter the Coach Store and see the price of a real Coach purse (25,000 MYR) and you know you got a knock off on Petaling Street.

In many ways the church is like Petaling Street, we have churches on every corner of this country, they are big, small, white, black, traditional, contemporary, but most are all the same, they are a knock off of the original. We present to people a knock off of the original and we wonder why people have no value for it. New programs are produced, new platforms are built, new church plants are established, but because it is a knock off, people have no value for the church. We seek to meet the needs of the people and in doing so we neglect the presence of God. Our services have become predictable, we do the same thing every week and we call it order. We have centered our service around the leaders passion rather than the Lord’s plan. If you have a passion for worship, that is the priority; if you are a person who loves prayer, that is the priority; if you love to teach or preach, that takes precedence. Yeah, we do all the right things, we sing, we pray, we preach, but the leaders passion becomes the priority and the presence of God is missing.

People will value the church, when the leaders in the church offer the original. People will pay for what they value, they will sacrifice for that which adds value to their lives. The church is to be the manifestation of the kingdom of God on earth. We are the protector of the city, the solution to every problem we see. But for this to become a reality, we have to repent of offering a knock off and lowering the price, just so the people will not go to another church. Church is not about the leader, the founder, the pastor, it is about God. If we don’t start offering an original, the people are going to be very angry with the leaders of the church, because they did not prepare them for the war they are in, with the ability to cast out the demons that are all around them, or for disciplining them as mothers and fathers, rather than seeking to spoil them by giving them everything they want.

If you want people to return to the church, you must start offering an original, they know the knock off is fake, so they quit coming, and who can blame them.