As Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said, "Here is truly an Israelite. There is nothing false in him."
-- John 1:47
Forget big budgets, A-list actors and Oscar-winning directors; it’s often the quality of the script that decides a movie’s success or failure. But the chances for box office gold are often much better when the screenwriter bases his or her work on actual events.
Consider Catch Me If You Can, the popular 2002 film starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks. DiCaprio played the ultimate imposter, Frank William Abagnale, Jr.
Jailed in France, Sweden, Canada and the United States for passing bad checks and other crimes, Abagnale was able to talk his way out of just about anything. When his ex-girlfriend obtained a business card from an inspector of the US Bureau of Prisons, the conman used it to convince the guards that he was a real prison inspector. And remarkably, the guards responded that they had known it all along! Soon, the imposter was a free man.
One of Abagnale’s most famous cons involved impersonating an airline pilot. This enabled him to cash bad checks at banks because tellers considered pilots to be credible and respected professionals. Another of his scams involved impersonating a physician!
The FBI eventually caught up with the brazen imposter. And following his release from prison, Abagnale eventually went straight and established Abagnale and Associates, where he today consults for clients (including the US Government) on the topics of forgery, embezzlement and secure documents.
"To look at him, you wouldn’t think he could steal a postage stamp,” remarked Leonardo DiCaprio after meeting Abagnale. “But he has an almost unconscious way of engaging you with his eyes, with his energy and with his intelligence."Frank Abagnale’s story is both fascinating and shocking. How could a dime-a-dozen conman garner so much respect and admiration from so many unsuspecting people? Unfortunately, the same thing happens every Sunday morning in churches around the world. And while smooth-talking individuals aren’t posing there as airline pilots or doctors, it’s no-doubt that there are imposter Christ-followers in the congregations. They know all the right things to say and the right groups to attend, and they’ve often played their roles for years because it’s what their spouse, close family or neighbors expect. These frauds fool just about everyone on Sundays. But it’s a far different story the other six days of the week. And that’s to be expected: their hearts are far from God. And God isn’t fooled for a moment.
Does this strike too close to home?
If you’re tired of looking over your shoulder in a Catch Me If You Can existence, you too can go on the straight and narrow and have a fresh start in life. It starts with dropping the disguise and asking Jesus in faith to clean you both inside and out. Through Him, you can be filled with God’s vital spiritual authenticity – that Power that enables all true Christ-followers to be his literal hands and feet in a dark, dying world. And rest assured that your transformation won’t come a moment too soon. After all, these are days when God looks for those willing to live out His purposes. And not as a matter of grudging duty, but instead because of deep – and authentic – devotion.