JoJo has a unique way of asking people if they are joking around. She tilts her head to the side, gives you an inquisitive look, and asks, “for real?” On the other hand, if she is trying to convince you she is being serious, she says, “for real life”. As in, “I don’t want to go to bed. I’m not tired! For real life.”
In my sermon this week, I talked about the importance of authenticity in the life of a disciple. We need to be “for real” in our relationships with God, ourselves, and others. Authenticity is difficult, however. It is much easier, and often safer, to pretend to be something we are not. It’s much easier to pretend that everything is fine, even though our world if falling apart. It’s easier to pretend that we have all the answers, then admit we are plauged with doubt. It’s easier to say one thing and do another rather than practice what we preach.
Authenticity is difficult. But it’s worth it. To be authentic with someone else means you make yourself vulnerable. To be vulnerable with antoher person means you open yourself up to the possiblity of betrayal and hurt. But you also open yourself up to the possibility of true joy and contentment. The more authentic you are, the more possiblity there is for both pain and joy. That is why so many of us struggle with authenticiy. We are afraid of both of those possibilities.
To be authentic with yourself and others, however, you must first be authentic with God. This means you must be open and honest with God about everything. The good, the bad, and everything in between. This is a struggle for many of us. It’s foolish, if you think about it. God knows everything. He knows our hearts and minds. He knows how we are made. Nothing will surprise him.
Yet we are slow to admit our sin, doubts, or fears becuase are afraid of what he will think. We project human expecations onto God. We know that if we really let our crazy out in front of other people, they would be scared away. We don’t want to bother other people with our concerns, big or small, because we don’t want to be a burden to them. We believe people have a limited ammount of forgiveness, so we don’t want to repeat the same mistakes over and over again.
But God is not like that. He is infintely patient. His grace and forgiveness knows no bounds. We will never be a burden to him, because Christ took our burdens to the cross. As the psalmist says,
8 The LORD is compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger, abounding in love.
9 He will not always accuse,
nor will he harbor his anger forever;
10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve
or repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
We fear authenticity because we fear being rejected. But in Christ we do not have to fear. He accepts us completely. Not on our own merit, but because of his great love for us. For that reason, and that reason only, we can be completely open and honest with God. As we learn to be authentic, our relationship with him will develop and mature.
I promise you that. For real life.