First, confession time: I have found myself lingering at the well of authenticity without moving into the deeper heart change that precedes a holier lifestyle. I question myself first before you today. How am I becoming more like Christ? Am I willing to push through my pain to find my place in the church again? Am I willing to do the work to be free? Is it possible that by telling my story, I can help others? Lets just say these questions and quite a few to come should be asked by all of us.
I saw an article recently postulating that the church is pushing authenticity but forsaking holiness, I have to disagree. Why? Because in the first place the church as a whole is far from authentic. We slap slogans on our mission statements before we even realize what it will cost us to personally model it. We don’t go in-depth, to the pain, to the roots. We don’t confront the sin in our lives head on, we dance all around it hoping something works. We say “that’s for small groups” (2 or 3 people) yeah, really effective!
Authenticity isn’t being real to a point, it is being real to a fault
What does the church fear-an exposure of the truth that all our lives are or have been a miserable mess? Isn’t that the story of our redemption, salvation and restoration? If we do carry the burden of unconfessed or habitual sin, isn’t the church the place to receive the help?
If authenticity is subverted, then what? Why must there be one or the other here? Cannot authenticity and holiness co-exist? We all know there are those who don’t struggle with the same things we do, some are morally strong and faithful where others are not; and for a myriad of reasons.
The question should be – How do we create relationships that connect the faltering Christian to the strong? I believe this can be accomplished through authenticity. Some subjects, even in the world in which we live are taboo in the church, they are never directly dealt with in a non-shaming way. Therefore the sin is kept underground until it shows itself in a major meltdown. Then it is all about damage control. We have to be painfully real, if not for ourselves, then for those who hide in fear.
Authenticity can be a pathway to personal and corporate growth, spiritual progression and even holiness. It cannot be the primary goal, but surely an essential quality which contributes to creating strong faith communities.
2 Corinthians 12:9 Living Bible (TLB)
My power shows up best in weak people. Now I am glad to boast about how weak I am; I am glad to be a living demonstration of Christ’s power, instead of showing off my own power and abilities.
People don’t only want answers from those who supposedly never had any struggles, they want to hear from people who have overcome what they are battling. Authentically relating our failures and yes, even our success will inspire and encourage others in believing they can also do the same and more. No matter how or what sin has ensnared us holiness is attainable for every person who desires it, if our goal is to achieve a state of being that lives in harmony with Christ.
Sin is sin and being real is real…between the two is where people meet Jesus.