Is Your Christianity "the Real McCoy"?

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Is Your Christianity "the Real McCoy"?

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Elijah McCoy was born in Colchester, Ontario, Canada, in 1843. His parents had fled there from slavery in Kentucky in the late 1830s. When they resettled with him in Ypsilanti, Michigan, in 1849, they observed how their son demonstrated a strong mechanical aptitude. When he turned 16, they sought to enroll him in a university offering an engineering education. But they soon learned that people of black African descent were not permitted to register. Despite this obstacle, they sent him to Edinburgh, Scotland, to be trained by a mechanical engineer.

After serving as an apprentice master mechanic there for five years, McCoy returned to his parents’ home in 1864. He began searching for employment in mechanical engineering but felt he was being denied entrance to the profession due again to racism. He then took a job with the Michigan Central Railroad as a steam locomotive fireman and oiler. His duties included throwing wood and coal into the engine’s firebox, the flames of which generated steam to power the locomotive.

He was also responsible to keep the engine well-oiled to prevent damage due to overheating. Although the axles and bearings of the railroad cars (carriages) were lubricated automatically by oil-filled chambers, the locomotive engine was not—as its intense steam pressure pushed oil away from moving parts. Thus the train had to stop periodically so McCoy could exit the operator’s cab to manually lubricate the engine.

McCoy’s highly successful invention

Taking advantage of his mechanical engineering skills, McCoy began considering how steam pressure could be employed to automate oiling the engine. He set up a home machine shop where he designed, built and tested a potential device. This led him to invent his “automatic lubricator” for which he obtained a patent in 1872.

Officials at the Michigan Central Railroad offered him support by testing the mechanism on their locomotives. McCoy’s invention proved highly successful, dramatically enhancing efficiency by eliminating time-consuming lubricating stops. His original device and subsequent upgrades ultimately became standard features on locomotives throughout the United States and were adapted for stationary engines in factories and on steamships.

McCoy’s career soon took him to Detroit, where he began to focus on solving problems related to other railroad and train technicalities.

These challenges arose due to the development of larger, more powerful locomotives using “superheated steam.” McCoy proved once again to be on the leading edge of designing critical lubricating methods. In 1915 he was awarded a U.S. patent for his “locomotive lubricator.” This device allowed the use of a mixture of oil and powdered graphite, which could withstand extremely high operating temperatures.

Author and historian Robert Hayden, Jr., in his book Eight Black American Inventors (1972), quotes a letter from a railroad superintendent of that period: “We have found the McCoy graphite lubricator to be of considerable assistance in lubrication of locomotives equipped with superheaters. There is a decided advantage in better lubrication and reduction of wear in valves and piston rings.”

Inventions of superior design and quality

Throughout his career, McCoy continued refining his engineering skills and products, over time obtaining at least 57 U.S. patents. His inventions generated enormous respect because they represented superior design and quality.

Although competing mechanisms were available, most purchasing agents sought McCoy’s authentic equipment. Many of them insisted on what they termed “the real McCoy,” meaning the industry standard, the best of its kind or that of the highest quality.

Elijah McCoy died in 1928 at the age of 85. His legacy of distinctive excellence lives on today through the expression that bears his name. The phrase “the real McCoy” migrated from industrial to consumer applications and remains in general use in much of the English-speaking world.

For example, people often use the slogan when referring to “brand-name” consumer merchandise. They prefer such products because they trust that the manufacturer or company offers premium quality over competing brands.

Accepting “bargain-brand” Christianity?

While bargain brands may be suitable if they meet the needs they’re used for, imagine if this practice was applied to one’s Christian life and beliefs. Would anyone intentionally reject Elijah McCoy’s model of highly valuing and pursuing quality in favor of a mediocre imitation of true, biblical Christianity, something clearly inferior?

But the fact is, many people have actually done this very thing! How is this possible?

Christ gave the answer when He said: “Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying [that] I am Christ; and shall deceive many” (Matthew 24:4-5 Matthew 24:4-5 4 And Jesus answered and said to them, Take heed that no man deceive you. 5 For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.
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, King James Version, emphasis added throughout).

Jesus cautioned His disciples that many people would be fooled into accepting less than “the real McCoy” in terms of Christianity (see also Matthew 24:11 Matthew 24:11And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.
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, Matthew 24:24 Matthew 24:24For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; so that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.
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). The apostle Peter likewise wrote: “But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them” (2 Peter 2:1 2 Peter 2:1But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privately shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction.
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).

The apostle Paul also expressed grave concern about corrupt, fraudulent teachers and corrected some of the Christians in Corinth for easily accepting lies. They believed smooth-talking charlatans who preached heresy (2 Corinthians 11:4 2 Corinthians 11:4For if he that comes preaches another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if you receive another spirit, which you have not received, or another gospel, which you have not accepted, you might well bear with him.
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).

This wasn’t just a problem of that era. Paul warned that this situation would continue into our time (1 Timothy 4:1 1 Timothy 4:1Now the Spirit speaks expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;
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).

But why do people reject Christ’s original teachings and accept spurious ones? Although Satan the devil plays a major role in adversely influencing human beings, they themselves are not without fault (Ephesians 6:12 Ephesians 6:12For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
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; Romans 1:18-21 Romans 1:18-21 18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; 19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God has showed it to them. 20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: 21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
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). People often believe what others say about Jesus’ words, rather than studying for themselves what the Scriptures really teach (Ephesians 4:14 Ephesians 4:14That we from now on be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
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).

The mistake of not knowing the Scriptures

Jesus rebuked the religious leaders of His day about this error when He told them: “You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God” (Matthew 22:29 Matthew 22:29Jesus answered and said to them, You do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.
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). People stumble over this same problem today. They believe—often without question—what their church, minister or priest has “always taught” about Christian doctrine (Matthew 15:9 Matthew 15:9But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.
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). However, to build a steadfast relationship with Jesus, His words and example —not the teachings of men—must be your foundation (2 Timothy 3:15 2 Timothy 3:15And that from a child you have known the holy scriptures, which are able to make you wise to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
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).

Consider another striking question Jesus asked those who claimed they were His faithful supporters: “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do the things which I say? ” (Luke 6:46 Luke 6:46And why call you me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?
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). He emphasized this point when telling His disciples, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven” (Matthew 7:21 Matthew 7:21Not every one that said to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of my Father which is in heaven.
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).

And what is the Father’s will? It is that people obey His commandments (1 John 5:3 1 John 5:3For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.
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; Exodus 34:28 Exodus 34:28And he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread, nor drink water. And he wrote on the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments.
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). And where can we learn how to fully obey God’s commandments? By studying His Word, the Holy Bible. And to help us in living by His Word, God tells us to not neglect regular assembly with fellow Christians (Hebrews 10:24-25 Hebrews 10:24-25 24 And let us consider one another to provoke to love and to good works: 25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as you see the day approaching.
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). He knows we need this fellowship in God’s one true Church, “the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:15 1 Timothy 3:15But if I tarry long, that you may know how you ought to behave yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.
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).

The Church is not a building or corporation

Jesus said He would build His Church (Matthew 16:18 Matthew 16:18And I say also to you, That you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
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; Acts 20:28 Acts 20:28Take heed therefore to yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost has made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he has purchased with his own blood.
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). The Church consists of a small group of people the Father “calls out” of the world’s society into His service (John 6:44 John 6:44No man can come to me, except the Father which has sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.
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; 2 Timothy 1:9 2 Timothy 1:9Who has saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,
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; Luke 12:32 Luke 12:32Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.
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). “Church” as used in the Bible is not a building or corporation, but a spiritual body of believers who are unified in purpose, faith and love (Ephesians 4:13 Ephesians 4:13Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ:
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; 1 Corinthians 12:12 1 Corinthians 12:12For as the body is one, and has many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.
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; John 13:35 John 13:35By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one to another.
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).

The Church is also God’s spiritual family. It protects, nurtures and guides His children as they grow in character, spiritual knowledge and godly wisdom (Romans 8:16 Romans 8:16The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:
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; Ephesians 2:19 Ephesians 2:19Now therefore you are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God;
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; 1 Timothy 3:15 1 Timothy 3:15But if I tarry long, that you may know how you ought to behave yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.
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).

The people God calls into His Church are to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33 Matthew 6:33But seek you first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.
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). They are also commissioned to help proclaim Jesus Christ and His gospel—meaning “good news”—of the coming Kingdom of God and to make disciples throughout the world (Matthew 24:14 Matthew 24:14And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness to all nations; and then shall the end come.
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; Matthew 28:19 Matthew 28:19Go you therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
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). Jesus gave His repentant, Spirit-filled Church the mission of training new converts to “observe all things that I have commanded” (Matthew 28:20 Matthew 28:20Teaching them to observe all things whatever I have commanded you: and, see, I am with you always, even to the end of the world. Amen.
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).

But what do we observe in the world of traditional Christianity? We see multiple thousands of denominations and organizations, each teaching contradictory and incompatible beliefs. While they preach ideas about the person of Christ as Savior, they ignore the very message He taught about the Kingdom of God (Matthew 9:35 Matthew 9:35And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people.
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).

This results in millions who believe in Christ but know nothing about the world-ruling government He will set up on earth at His return (Isaiah 9:6-7 Isaiah 9:6-7 6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given: and the government shall be on his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. 7 Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, on the throne of David, and on his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from now on even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.
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; Zechariah 14:4 Zechariah 14:4And his feet shall stand in that day on the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall split in the middle thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south.
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) or of being part of God’s family forever. The end result is a Christianity that doesn’t understand God’s purpose for humanity!

What about your form of Christianity?

What then is the authentic form of Christianity? A person who is part of “the real McCoy” in this case will strive to have Jesus’ words guide his every thought and action (2 Corinthians 10:5 2 Corinthians 10:5Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;
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). He will deeply repent of sin. He will love God above all things and be building a lasting relationship with Him through fervent prayer and Bible study (Matthew 22:37 Matthew 22:37Jesus said to him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.
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; Psalms 73:28 Psalms 73:28But it is good for me to draw near to God: I have put my trust in the Lord GOD, that I may declare all your works.
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).

A genuine Christian will recognize his complete dependence on his Creator and revere Christ as his Savior and coming King (Galatians 2:20 Galatians 2:20I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
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; 2 Peter 1:11 2 Peter 1:11For so an entrance shall be ministered to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
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). A Christian will exhibit the fruit of God’s Spirit through loving others and doing good works (John 13:34 John 13:34A new commandment I give to you, That you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.
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; Galatians 5:22-23 Galatians 5:22-23 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
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).

A Christian will assemble regularly with like-minded Church members to worship God on His weekly, seventh-day Sabbath (Friday sunset to Saturday sunset) and His annual Holy Days (see our free study guide God’s Holy Day Plan: The Promise of Hope for All Mankind ).

Understanding these and other aspects of genuine Christianity is essential in identifying what a true follower of Jesus Christ does and how he lives.

Elijah McCoy drove himself to produce the highest quality lubricating devices for railroad and industrial applications, accepting nothing but the best. If you applied the demand for excellence as found in “the real McCoy” to your Christian life, how would you measure up? Are you faithfully obeying Jesus Christ and following His genuine teachings? Or are you simply believing and acting on what others say is correct?

With God only the genuine biblical standard will meet His requirements (Matthew 7:21-23 Matthew 7:21-23 21 Not every one that said to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name? and in your name have cast out devils? and in your name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess to them, I never knew you: depart from me, you that work iniquity.
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; 1 Corinthians 12:31 1 Corinthians 12:31But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet show I to you a more excellent way.
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). Is your form of Christianity “the real McCoy”? If not, what are you going to do about it?

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