So are you authentic? We all know how attractive authenticity is don’t we? But are you authentic?
Jesus slams inauthenticity in a parable he teaches to some people in Luke 18:9! He describes two men; the first man, a Pharisee, and the second a tax collector. Jesus slates the Pharisee for his evil approach to life, as he prays a prayer before many people thanking God that he was not the kind of person who did evil acts, nor was he like te tax collector, but rather he was the kind of guy who fasted and gave tithes often. Outwardly this man actually does sound like a good dude – generous, aware of sinfulness and grateful, and a man of prayer! Yet Jesus called him unsaved, ungodly and way off the mark. In fact Jesus even says that this man was not praying to God but rather to himself. He was inauthentic. What made him so?
If something is authentic it is real, genuine and always the same. It is consistent in it’s value and identity, not hiding another identity. Another word to describe authiticity is the word integrity. Integrity describes something or someone that is fully integrated, always one, undivided. A person of integrity is undivided in his standards of living and ways of being, consistent and steadfast in morality and truth.
My auto-electrician described integrity well when I questioned him of a decision to do with my car and he said to me that he always tells the truth, that way he does not have to remember what he has said! That’s authenticity.
The tax collector had an identity that he tried to put before God and people, but that could not fool God, even if it could fool people. This man would likely have had a shoddy marriage and been hard and brash in person, always living up to his differing identities that he created for different circumstances and people!
The tax collector on the other hand was very different. He was evil, he did cheat, steal and lie. He did likely have a shoddy marriage anyway, and had made many poor decisions in his life. Yet there came a moment of authenticity, or integrity, when his whole being came to terms with its actual reality; he was sinful and needed help. In that moment authenticity and integrity flooded his existence and God poured love upon him, so much so that Jesus said he went home justified, he was saved.
Why are Christians refreshing to be around in general? Not cos they’re kind primarily, or because they’re generous primarily, or because they’re hospitable either, but because they’re authentic, unafraid of themselves, unafraid of their identity, secure in their sinfulness and safe in their salvation. That’s what is attractive, people who are integrated, without falsehood, free from duel identities and deceptive personas. Happily one person; that’s who God desires us to be. Not because we are perfect, but because our imperfections are erased by his mercy and our lives and identities are shaped by one force: our caring and gracious creator.
The authenticity test:
Do you have different personas for different people or circumstances?
When most comfortable and “at home” are you a different person to the one who goes to church and home group and even social settings?
When you pray, do you have another voice, tone, language, that is very different from your usual way of speaking to people?
Do you have 2 sets of friends that you keep very separate for fear of being found out by the other group?
Do you have moments where you hide things from people you respect for fear of losing their respect?
Does fear of peoples opinions often over ride your decisions you make before God?
If you’ve answered yes to more than 3 of these questions you’re likely needing to do some business regarding integrity and authenticity. Good news! That’s why God came to the earth, to help us realize this in the most gentle and gracious way. Take your duel realities to God, let him know of the things that you are “hiding” from him and from others, and change the way you think of God in those things; you can’t hide anything from God, and you must bring the important issues into the open with people who care and can help you journey towards a life of deep and powerful authenticity. Christ will have grace to help you out and give you strength! Continue to pray through these things until Christ has freed you, however long that takes, He will get you through!