Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Authenticity & Freedom

(The Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island)

The word “authentic” comes from a Greek word, autos, which means “self.” We get a lot of other English words from autos, like “automobile” (a self-driven vehicle), “automatic” (runs by itself), “autograph” (a self-writing), and so on.

We could translate “authentic” as meaning “the real thing,” “the genuine article.” When it comes to Christianity, an “authentic” Christian would be someone who actually, genuinely, follows after Jesus. An “inauthentic” Christian would be someone who fakes it in front of other people (like on a Sunday morning) but in their own home or in their workplace is someone different.

My own feeling is that who you and I are in our own homes is who we really, authentically, are. And who we are when no one is looking is who we truly are.

It’s important to note that authenticity is not about perfection. No one is perfect (Jesus was, we’re not). It’s what we do with our imperfections that gives clues to authenticity. For example, I’ve at times met people who are self-admitted jerks who pride themselves by being consistent in their jerkiness. Authentically, they are the real thing when it comes to being rude or abrasive. A difference between them and a real follower of Jesus would be that the authentic Jesus-follower would be internally broken and saddened by their non-Jesus character and would cry out for more heart-transformation.

The question of authenticity thus has two components: 1) the goal - “real-ness” = “Christlikeness”; and 2) integrity - which means the reality of a growing Christlikeness is evidenced in every environment, whether alone or with others, whether at home or in the sanctuary.

The result of authenticity is nothing less than freedom. Acting and faking it takes a lot of energy. It’s a tiresome thing to try to be someone you were never intended to be. And “freedom” is not just being anybody or anything, but being like Christ, who was the truth, and whose truth sets us free.