>What is the Church? Day 1: Authentic

Since, then, we do not have the excuse of ignorance, everything—and I do mean everything—connected with that old way of life has to go. It’s rotten through and through. Get rid of it! And then take on an entirely new way of life—a God-fashioned life, a life renewed from the inside and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces his character in you.

What this adds up to, then, is this: no more lies, no more pretense. Tell your neighbor the truth. In Christ’s body we’re all connected to each other, after all. When you lie to others, you end up lying to yourself. Ephesians 4:22-25 (Msg)

Authenticity takes a great deal of courage. Inauthenticity takes a great deal of energy. The dictionary defines “authentic” as “not false or copied; genuine; real.” The issue with authenticity comes when we don’t fit in, but we pretend that we do.

When I was about 14 years old, I used a word at home that I only used at school. My dad told me about someone who was treating him unfairly. I said, “I’d be _______ at him.” (Insert the past tense of a four letter word for urinating). My sentiment was genuine. The problem was at home I was not the kind of boy that used such a word. But, at school I was. I was caught in the dilemma of being authentic and inauthentic at the same time. At the time, I think I just went to my room and died a thousand deaths.

Often when we read Paul’s words about casting off everything attached to our old way of life, we instantly reference a list of sinful behaviors forbidden by the church. But, that’s only part of it. The “old way of life” for many of us is a Pandora’s box of dysfunctional behaviors. From avoidance and rage to escape and passive-aggressive behavior, most of us are a bit of a mess. We know how to depend on ourselves. We know how to cope temporarily with the situations around us. We don’t know how to put on this new life in Christ very well.

We pour our energies into pretending to be transformed rather than actually being transformed. It’s exhausting.

We’re tempted by things we would never mention. We reject others who remind us of ourselves. We look the part and act the part, but often we’re just dying a thousand deaths inside.

In the movie, The Lion King, young Simba escaped from home bearing the shame of believing he caused his father’s death. After much time had passed Simba encounters wise old Rafiki who confronts Simba and his life of escape. Rafiki declares, “You don’t even know who you are.” This is what Paul declares in this verse: No more lies. No more pretense. No more hiding. You are God’s child. Be God’s child. Don’t just pretend. Lay claim to who you really are.

What about you is inauthentic? In what way might you be pretending to be someone that you are not? What are you dying a thousand deaths over? Right now take a moment and ask God to help you remove this old garment of inauthenticity and put on the new garment of life in Him. This will take more work than just one prayer, but it’s a start.

God made you to be who you are. With His help, you can become the best version of yourself that He intends. You can resemble Christ Himself. God will give you the courage to be authentic. 

Scripture quotations taken from The Message. Copyright © by Eugene H. Peterson, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group. All rights reserved.