by Pastor Rob Bloss
I lived in a semi-conscious state of denial for more than a few years of my life. It took some extraordinarily painful circumstances to bring me to my senses and open my eyes to a much fuller and more honest truth about myself, others and God. And just to keep it real with you, when I’m tired, afraid, stressed, lonely or feeling ashamed–I’m still capable, like a turtle when threatened, of retreating back into my shell.
I’ve read, seen and believe that people are really looking for two unique qualities in a church: Authenticity and Engagement. Authenticity communicates this is a place I could belong. Engagement provides purpose and makes a difference.
The second is easier to define and measure, but with authenticity there are a lot of definitions and mistaken imitations; things like relativism, social elitism and dedication to causes are just a few examples. Authenticity is transparency and admission of failure. It's the rejection of pretense and hypocrisy. It's truth-telling about all areas of life. Authenticity should flow from what I am still learning versus what I already know.
However you define it, I do believe Christians should do it best. We serve a God who is always truthful. Never deceives. Never lies. But I fear that unless our lives are Gospel-Centered rather than Me-Centered, we may accept an inferior and postmodern version of tell-all, tolerate-all authenticity.
I get it, we want people to only see all that is going right, or my way or how perfect my life is. Social media allows this perception, but for true authenticity to work people need to see me when I don’t have it all together; when I fall apart and when I struggle. They need to see the transforming nature and redemptive grace of Christ!
The Gospel not only hinges on the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, but the church’s ability to authentically, sincerely, genuinely share that hope through broken and messed up people. People like me and you!
Paul puts this truth on display when he writes in 2 Corinthians 4:7-10, “Now we have this treasure in clay jars, so that this extraordinary power may be from God and not from us. We are afflicted in every way but not crushed; we are perplexed but not in despair; we are persecuted but not abandoned; we are struck down but not destroyed. We always carry the death of Jesus in our body, so that the life of Jesus may also be displayed in our body.”
In his book, The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness, Tim Keller writes, “Spiritual pride is the illusion that we are competent to run our own lives, achieve our own sense of self-worth and find a purpose big enough to give us meaning in life without God.”
Our normal condition is always trying to prove to ourselves, others and God that we are somebody. A condition that if left unchecked and unsurrendered to Christ will continually leave us hollow and hiding.
Let’s keep it real! Let’s not hide from each other or from the world. Let’s be that church, a safe and welcoming place for imperfect people. Let’s go out and live authentic, imperfect, messy lives before a broken world so that others may see that Jesus is in the business of redeeming and transforming lives into His image.