Ever seen an “authentic” Chinese restaurant owned by a guy named Patrick O’Malley? The “real deal” is hard to find these days . . . and equally hard to define. 

Regardless, authenticity is a big deal to Jesus. In the twelfth chapter of Luke, He said, "You can't keep your true self hidden forever; before long you'll be exposed. You can't hide behind a religious mask forever; sooner or later the mask will slip and your true face will be known" (The Message, a paraphrase).

Living out the Gospel

One of my personal struggles is wearing the mask of the "extra Gospel": living out merely the verses I have highlighted in my Bible. You know, the nice verses that bring comfort and reinforce my preferences. Last time I looked at my Bible, Christ’s challenge to "sell your possessions and give your money to the poor" had yet to be highlighted!

Knowing this of myself, it’s easy to get caught up in wondering, then, what it means to be an authentic Christian. Does it mean we should be flawless demonstrations of Jesus? If so, I’ve got no hope.

It's not about perfection

Thankfully, God assures us that no, Christianity is not about perfection. Rather, it is about engaging in an honest process of becoming more like Jesus Christ. If you feel challenged as you read this, it’s probably a sign that you embrace authenticity. Authentic Christians don’t pretend they are perfect. But when they mess up, they are quick to admit it and get back in step with Christ. They understand the grace of God and are also quick to give His grace to others. An authentic Christian is one who sincerely strives to be the "real deal."

To achieve this, perhaps we should regularly adopt and reiterate the Psalmist’s prayer: "Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life" (Psalm 139:23-24). As a Christ-follower, I need to ask myself, "Am I the real deal? Am I living a life worthy of imitation?"

Society isn’t looking for a spiritual theory. Neither are our children. They are longing for a personification of what it means to be an authentic follower of Jesus – someone who can say, "Keep in step with me as I strive to keep in step with Jesus."

© 2008 Focus on the Family (Canada) Association. All rights reserved.

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