I don't mind letting you know I can be cheap at times. A good deal or a cheaper alternative is always on my radar and I'm no stranger to penny pinching if I feel like it can save me a few bucks. One area I've attempted to apply that strategy is in the field of ingredients. I've made the mistake a few times of buying off-brand supplies and ingredients for a meal or two and learned the hard way you get what you paid for. Substitutes tend to do that. They never have the same value, ability, or produce the same results as the genuine thing. I think we do the same thing at times with Jesus. We substitute our Savior for cheap imitations and ingredients which can't provide what God's Son can.
We substitute Christ in a lot of different areas and may not even notice it because we're so busy trying to cut corners and satisfy our selfish desires. One substitute we're all guilty of is our possessions. Our American culture is plagued with the lie of "If I can just get more..." The hard reality is enough will never be enough when it comes to material possessions. We strive for a tremendously high standard of living all while living in the lowest of moral forms. Thankfully, the scriptures are quick to remind us that something can never replace someone and that someone is Jesus.
Not only do we substitute our Lord with possessions, but we also attempt to substitute Him with our relationships. One great lesson concerning relationships we all need to camp around is to never put people in a position they don't belong. When we do this, everyone gets hurts. Unrealistic expectations always destroy because no one can live up to a false standard. To substitute the holy, perfect, anointed Lord for a deeply flawed, wretched, sin cursed individual is not only wrong it's borderline cruelty. Psalm 71:19 says "Thy righteousness also, O God, is very high, who has done great things: O God, who is like unto thee!" This verse clearly points to the fact no one is comparable or worthy of the adoration we should place on God. Therefore, any substitute would be sin on our part and unfair at best to put someone else in the Lord's rightful place.
A third and very common substitute savior is our effort. The Gospel teaches us that trying harder to earn the love and grace of God is a fruitless act. In our sin nature we bring nothing to the table of the Lord and stand in eternal need of salvation. Nothing we do can cancel out the debt we owe to a righteous and just God. Trying to earn His redemption through works would be like squeezing millions of oranges hoping and praying you eventually will produce apple juice. It's an absurd notion, but one in which millions of people worldwide participate in daily. This, of all the shallow substitutes, makes the most sense to us because this is the substitute in which we have the most control over. However, there's one major problem with this assumption, you cannot replace the All-Sufficient with the insufficient. As the prophet Isaiah reminds us, our righteousness "is as filthy rags." Simply put, our efforts are not good enough and never will be good enough because there's nothing good in us apart from Jesus. Ephesians 2:8-9 rings loud and clear on this matter as Paul writes, "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast."
The final substitute we commonly use is our own personal will. One of the most destructive habits Christians form is superseding their own will over God's. We struggle to admit it, but our will is largely based on selfish motives and untrustworthy emotions. Our dreams, plans, goals, and aspirations typically have their foundations laid in what benefits us the most without regard for the glory of God. We must have the funeral for our personal will immediately and bury it in the grace of our Lord. Isaiah 55:8-9 humbles us as God declares, "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts." This verse takes the ax straight to the base of our tree of pride and quickly reminds us of the Lord's perfect and sovereign will.
Instead of pursuing these cheap substitutes, what we should ultimately be seeking is the One, True Savior. There is no comparison to Jesus and there never will be. He stands apart and exalted above all. Although we chase after shallow imitations, the Bible showcases to us that only Christ is sufficient to be Lord and Redeemer and only Christ is worthy of the title "Savior." Let's not fall prey to these substitutes, but instead keep our eyes on the King of Kings and pledge our allegiance to His eternal kingdom and glory.