Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Becoming Authentic

Supposedly one of the things our postmodern culture values is authenticity.* They want people you are sincere and tell it like it is. They distrust the establishment and anyone they perceive may have lied to them or deceived them in some way.

This may be a characteristic of postmodern culture, but I think it describes all of us as well. None of us like to be deceived or lied to. It will be next to impossible for us to give our trust to a person or organization after they have taken advantage of us. We want to trust people, but once that trust is broken if is hard for us to give it away again.

I believe that is one reason the Bible is so against hypocrites. It is hard for a person to put their trust in God after a self-proclaimed God follower has deceived or hurt them. Please understand this: what we accept as true is a reflection of our trust in the source. Why would a person accept the Good News of God’s love and forgiveness found in Jesus when we are gossips and grudge holders? If our lives aren’t changed by the message of Jesus then other people will not believe the message, no matter how will we might present it.

In order to communicate the truth of Jesus Christ we need to do more than just claim to be a Christian, we must truly show we are following Jesus in with the way we live. How we live is the most crucial evidence we can offer for truthfulness of the Gospel. Remember what the apostle Peter wrote: 15 Instead, exalt Christ as Lord in your hearts. Always be prepared to give a defense to everyone who asks you to explain the hope you have (1 Peter 3:15; ISV). When Jesus is Lord in our hearts the way we live will be different, and that compel people to ask us why. To live like Jesus in this world will make us stand apart from everyone else.

How do we begin to live like Jesus? In Romans 12:1-2 the apostle Paul gives us four tools to help us live a life of faith.
1 I therefore urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercies, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices that are holy and pleasing to God, for this is the reasonable way for you to worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but continually be transformed by the renewing of your minds so that you may be able to determine what God's will is—what is proper, pleasing, and perfect. (ISV)

The first tool Paul gives us is remember (I therefore urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercies,). We need to reflect on the love God has for us. God hasn’t left us for dead, but instead He has done everything in His power to help us discover the life He created us to live. This is one reason that the Bible plays such a crucial part in our maturing as followers of Jesus. The Bible helps us remember what God has done through history to bring us to salvation, to give us new life, and to give us the hope of heaven. While the Bible can help us understand what God is doing through history I think it is also important for us to have an idea of what God is doing through our lives. We need to reflect on the question: How has God worked through my life? Understanding what God has done to provide us with a new life should provide us with motivation to change the way we live.

The second tool Paul gives us is our requirement (to offer your bodies as living sacrifices that are holy and pleasing to God, for this is the reasonable way for you to worship.). In order to live holy lives it is important that we understand what is required of us. Paul here uses the illustration that we are to be living sacrifices to God. In the Old Testament a sacrifice that was offered to God was to be without blemish and from the best portion of their flock or harvest. It was given to God and it came at great cost to the worshipper. How does this apply to our lives? We need to recognize that the life of faith is going to come at great cost to us. It isn’t going to be easy. We also need to remember that we are giving ourselves to God’s purposes. Life is no longer about our agendas, but what God wants us to do. In other words our lives are to be totally devoted to what God is doing. In other words the requirement of a faithful life is that we give our lives to God. We are now His.

The third tool that Paul gives us is reformation (Do not be conformed to this world, but continually be transformed by the renewing of your minds). We are not transformed or reformed by our own efforts. As we surrender our lives to God He will transform us. This transformation is a heart and mind transformation and is seen in the change or our desires and thoughts. The more we surrender to God the more we are changed in the inside. But for this reformation to really make a difference we have to use it to change the way we live. Reformation is God’s way of directing us to the things He wants us to do. If God transforms our hearts and minds and we do not follow up by changing our lives then we will ultimately not be changed. We will return to the old way of thinking and being directed by the old passions. When we respond to God’s reformation in our hearts then we will discover that the way we lives begins to change as will.

The last tool Paul provides is the reason (so that you may be able to determine what God's will is—what is proper, pleasing, and perfect.). The reason we are to live faithful lives is that we can understand better and better what God’s will is. When we understand what God’s will is then we understand the proper way to live, how we can please God, and what it means to be perfect. Understanding God’s will helps us to become authentic. Our lives will match, more often than not, what we say we believe. We will be the people God wants us to be.

To be effective in communicating God’s word we must be authentic. People will trust us, and thus come to see the truth of the Gospel, when they see that we live what we say we believe. Truth we believe always comes from a source we can trust. Are you source people can trust?

  • Point to Ponder: How we live is the most crucial evidence we can offer for truthfulness of the Gospel
  • Passage to Remember: Romans 12:1-2
  • Question to Consider: Are you a source of truth that people can trust?


*Though it is my opinion that too much is made about postmodernism, if it even exists.

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