Each week for almost 27 years, with the exception of a period of time I ran for Congress, I have facilitated a Bible study class at my church in Hixson.
Most weeks, I learn more from those who share their insight and life experiences that parallel God's word and teaching.
One such Sunday, I learned a lesson from a young lady that stuck with me.
Our topic related to things that present themselves as counterfeits to authentic love, peace and joy that are mistaken for God's love, unconditional love, that energizes the lives of Christians to operate in truth, peace, honesty, long-suffering, commitment, fairness, and on and on. The intent was to identify those things that fraudulently substitute for "the real thing" in the life of a Judeo-Christian believer.
A young lady in the class worked at a local bank branch as a teller.
"We're taught to look for characteristics that prove the authenticity of money, instead of looking for counterfeits," Lori, the class member, shared. "If we don't see these identifying marks of the real currency, we know it's fake."
She went on to demonstrate her training by holding up a bill and taking the class through the process of authentication.
Lori noted the quality of the paper, the crisp edges and placement of the portrait, a security thread embedded in the denominations of the $10, $20, $50 and $100 bills, and a few other characteristics that tellers had been taught to validate the currency that came into their hands.
Issuing counterfeit currency is viewed as criminal because of the act of fraud committed in presenting that which is of no value. In the presentation of this worthless item, a transaction for goods or services is often involved, which adds theft to the crime for taking something without rendering payment.
It's important to deal in authentic currency.
Let's return to the personal application. The level of frustration experienced by me, you and most everyone we know due to the pandemic levels of dishonesty and deceit in the workplace, in churches and ministries (yep, religiosity messes things up), government, personal relationships, politics, corporations and nonprofits is despicable.
Folks break their word and their contracts; governments spy on law-abiding citizens and audit their finances in power grabs; "friends" look you in the eye and lie; politicians create dirt on opponents; "ministers" live a dual life of contradiction; corporate entities engage in unethical practices for profit and threaten any who challenge.
Yeah, those are the ones we see every day, portraying themselves, their companies, their organizations, and their relationships with you and me under fraudulent premises.
Let's pursue relationships, endeavors, enterprises, leaders and friends, and establish our communities based on authentic virtues of honesty, where the penalty for dishonesty is paid, where acts of corruption are met with correction, where retaliation is shamed and eliminated, and where the Golden Rule reigns.
When Christ called his 12 disciples, he warned of the persecutions ahead and admonished, "Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves."
Be on the lookout for authenticity, but be prepared for the wolves.
Robin Smith, immediate past Tennessee Republican Party chairwoman, is owner of Rivers Edge Alliance.