Some of you may remember this one, but it's worth repeating...

     I used to be fine with the maple syrup my wife bought. It was just the no-name generic brand stuff for a couple of dollars. Brown corn syrup, basically. But you put in on your French toast or your pancakes and it tasted fine. Then my father did something terrible and wonderful at the same time. You see, my father used to live in Vermont. And if you think of one thing about Vermont, you think of maple syrup: true, honest-to-goodness, from-the-tree-sap-that-God-created, maple syrup. And my father sent us some for a Christmas present. And it was like my whole world changed. I didn’t realize that pancakes could be taken to such heights of culinary grandeur. I didn’t realize how good it was. Tears of joy streamed down my face as I savored each bite! That was the wonderful part. The terrible part was the half bottle of the cheap stuff in the refrigerator. I realized how terrible the cheap stuff was. Not that it didn’t get the job done! But in comparison to the authentic, imitation maple syrup just wasn’t anywhere near the same.

     And that’s the problem with most imitations, they just don’t cut it. And you can have really really good imitations, but to the trained eye (or tongue) an imitation is always that: it’s not the same as the authentic.

     But of course, the reason there are so many knock off brands, or imitation brands, is that the authentic ones are so expensive. We don’t buy a lot of Vermont maple syrup—it’s expensive stuff.

     But there is one imitation that we need more of. There is one imitation that the more we get the better we feel and the better our relationships with God and with other people are. And that is forgiveness. Forgiveness needs imitators. Forgiveness needs imitators that start with the cross of Jesus Christ. Forgiveness needs imitators that share God’s love with others. And the best part is that when God’s forgiveness is imitated by you and me—you can’t tell the difference because it’s really the same.