It’s pretty difficult to be authentic these days. Notice how I’m saying that it’s hard for each of us, not just putting that on the people around us. We are in a time where everything looks wonderful on social media. The celebrities we follow, the friends in our lives, and the churches we go to; all are in danger of authenticity. An image of perfection and we try are hardest to measure up. This isn’t me dogging on celebrities who do cool things, or your friends who love taking hipster pics, or your church with a solid branding strategy; I’m simply pointing out the thing that we as Christ followers need to make sure we don’t lose. The point of the Christian walk is that we have been saved by a loving God, so that we can have an authentic relationship with him, an authentic faith. We can’t let our relationship with Jesus become a Sunday morning walk, it has to be an authentic daily journey with Christ.
I went to a Christian high school and this was always something I had a really hard time with. There would be guys in other classes talking about their crazy night of drinking, hear them bully kids around me, and disregard anything anyone tried to teach them. Yet at the same time I would hear them talk in our bible classes about how much they knew and would put into practice. It made my head hurt. I didn’t understand why? I see that still in my current life. There are people in all our lives we see this in, they appear to be this Jesus guy, but when it comes down to it, it looks like a mask. I recently have been wrestling with this idea, and the holy spirit has really challenged me on this topic. I want to talk about ways that you can make sure your walk is authentic, but also realize that we have to humble ourselves when it comes to looking at others in our lives.
Walk it out, and when life is hard, run faster.
This is the biggest trait I tell students in small groups. There are a lot of things we can do, but the most important is to develop that daily walk. Student will then ask how, and I tell them you have to read your bible. Prayer is good, but the bible is more important. Can he say that? Yes, and it’s because God’s word is alive. That question about direction in your life, the bible will give wisdom. The word of God is mighty and powerful, when you only pray and forget scripture, how can you discern the voice of God from the temptation of Satan? I got real serious there, but that’s because this is so vital! You have to take ownership of your faith, you can’t wait seven days for a sermon to fill your tank. You also can’t rely on someone else to cultivate your faith. Mentorships are great, but it will not substitute your own relationship. We need to develop a daily walk, because when life is good, the walk is fairly easy. The real test comes in when life throws that curveball, and that’s when you pick up the pace and run harder into the arms of your father.
In my own quiet time, the holy spirit told me to read Malachi 2. It serves as a warning to the priests that if they don’t hold on to the Lord and seek him first, trouble will come and they will be utterly lost. We have to develop an authentic faith in the valley so we can stand against the storm.
You are called to love, not judge.
I love articles that talk about Christians needing more authenticity and neglect the fact that we also need to not judge those who struggle with this. We become the thing we judge when this happens. In high school, I didn’t like the people who were hypocrites, but the holy spirit told me that I was being a hypocrite by the way I thought of them. In Matthew 23, Jesus calls out the Pharisees in the way they are acting, and he is not just correcting them, but he is correcting us Christians reading that chapter (the bible is the most meta text ever, fun fact). Verse 11-12 says, “The greatest among you will be your servant. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” We are called to treat others the way we want to be treated, not judge. Simply put, love the lost and God will sort out the rest. I was recently judged because I love hip hop and rap music. I always have, and I shared the Childish Gambino song and music video for, This is America, one that I think speaks to us as believers (even wrote a blog about it here). In the midst of discussion about it I felt very judged because it was secular. Why do Christians have to tear each other down? We are a body of believers, if some non-Christian hates me, that’s fine, but believers know better. We are called to love non-believers and the body, no matter what. God is way wiser than us, let’s let him sort all that extra stuff out. Simply love others and be humble, your authenticity will speak louder than your words.
In an age of image, we need to stand out. Don’t just put a picture of your bible on Instagram, read it daily. Use church to be a gateway to bring your friends into a relationship of their own. Allow God to work in your heart, don’t try to fit God into the image you are creating yourself. Be confident that God has made you with purpose. Fight for an authentic faith you call your own. It’s not always easy, I have to fight daily for it. I have to fight to pursue my God and fight to silence the voice of pride when I see the people around me. Shift your mind on what matters. Walk it out daily and run harder into the arms of the savior in the midst of trouble. Love everyone no matter what, and trust that God can sort out the rest.
You are made in the image of God, so be authentic.