As I wrap up the work week, I am going to continue with the exploration of the concept of authenticity. This is probably the toughest post of the week because I believe that authenticity in our faith is extremely important and extremely lacking.
What does an authentic Christian life look like? What does authentic faith look like?
Those are tough questions because I think that so often we live a message that is not authentic. We live a message that is appealing. We become promoters and advertisers for this thing called Christianity and neglect that faith is a very real part of it.
So we leave out the scary parts of the truth. We put on the show that says, since I am a believer and things are not going perfect, that I must pretend as if they are. In public, since I claim the riches and glory of Christ, my life must represent that and I can show no weakness.
I am here to encourage you to stop hiding the struggle; the struggle is the beacon of hope to the world that Christ pulls us through the trials. He, and our faith, do not remove struggles and hard times. We just know that we have a solid foundation so that the storms do not have to destroy us.
An authentic Christian has a story. They have struggles and triumphs and anger and they fall down. They drop to their knees and dare I say it, they doubt. They question and they explore. They take comfort in knowing that Christ is working all things for the good of those who love Him, but they can be afraid when they are not able to see the big picture. They trust in the truth, but they are still scared to leap.
No one will understand why we lose some people so young. No one can explain why terrible things happen to “good” people, but we have faith in a bigger plan. It still HURTS! We still struggle to come and sit at the feet of Christ with the biggest question of all “Why?” But we still come to His feet.
And that is what we need to stop being afraid to show a little more often.
This week my mind seemed centered on the following:
Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me. (Luke 9:23)
And what kept coming to me was that in this passage we are reminded that we have a cross to carry daily. Our sins are not crucified to it when we believe. We still will struggle with sin and death in this lifetime. It means that even though I am a follower and I know that my sins will not be the cause for me to be separated from Christ in eternity…I still have to deal with them in the here and now, daily.
This reminds me that being a believer does not remove the struggle, it gives me a hope for the future. It means that I am going to fall down and fail. And if I am going to live out my faith and be authentic with those around me, they need to see that.
My motto for this year is “#WatchThis” and it does not come from arrogance, but from the notion that says, I want you to see me for who I am. I want you to see the authentic person. It means that you will see me sin and get hurt for no reason. I will be upset with my wife, kids, friends and family when they do not deserve it. I will be selfish and you will call me things that I deserve to be called.
I will struggle with my faith and I will trust in my creator to help me. I will not understand what God is doing in and around me, but I will trust Him. I will misinterpret Him and I will get it right sometimes. I will share from my heart and try to bring you who I am in everything that I write and post.
That will include my failings.
The church as a whole in the west needs to start being authentic again. It needs to admit its failures and the God’s people need to recognize that if we want people to know Christ, and know Him intimately, they have to see us NEED Him and trust Him. Christ does not make life perfect and automatically fill our bank accounts and remove illness and heartache from around us. He is a refuge from the storm, a place for peace in the chaos.
I challenge you to live an authentic faith this next week. When you struggle, help people to see you are relying on Christ to pull you through. Don’t carry on like everything is good because you are afraid that will cause people to leave you or hurt your reputation with the believers. Christ knows what you are going through, He built this body called the church so that you would have a place to be safe. The authentic Church that Christ built was built as a place for a bunch of people with a bunch of crosses to get together and be real with one another.
It isn’t a place for acting…that is called the theatre!