One of the adjectives most used to describe Jesus during the time He walked this earth is authentic. I’ve been giving that some thought lately.
Authenticity, when done out of our own effort and willpower, is both exhausting and terrifying. However, I don’t think we are called to be authentic.
I think authenticity, and all good things!, are the result of following God. We cannot will them into existence. The more we try to be like Him, the more we open ourselves up to disillusionment and fatigue. Relying on our own strength and abilities will always eventually lead to exhaustion, depression, anxiety, or hopelessness. Willpower isn’t infinite and we are flawed. We cannot do life on our own willpower forever. We will burn out. And God, being the One who created us, knows that.
And so, rather than being called to be authentic (or honest or compassionate or anything else), we are simply called to love Him and seek Him. And then trust Him with the results. He is the one who will produce good in us, good that can last. He alone can make us more like Him.
I think I’ve used this analogy before, but for example, I cannot get more tan by simply trying to BE more tan. Sure, I could buy a self-tanner, but it will be orange and streaky and take so much time to maintain that I’d quickly give up. The only way to be effortlessly tan is to learn to love spending time in the sun. Similarly, the more time we spend with Him, the more like Him we will become.
And so, if all the good that we accomplish and all the qualities in us that are Christ-like are the product of Him working in us and through us, then what do we have to fear? Authenticity isn’t scary when you realize there’s no risk of being “found out”. We don’t have to hide or self-protect or live ashamed because we are human. We are beautiful and flawed and imperfect and so full of potential. We all are. There is no shame in that. The more people see me for who I am, the more they will see Jesus. Because anything I accomplish or any compassion I show or any forgiveness I bestow on someone, they are Him in me.
We are called to trust in God and His ability to accomplish good things. We are not called to accomplish good things on our own. We are not called to power through, relying on whatever strengths and abilities we think we possess. He wants us only to rely on Him. Our trust, our hope, and our faith, they are to be in Him alone. We cannot put trust, hope, or faith in ourselves, other people, our jobs, or money.
And when we really grasp onto that concept, that God can make us strong where we are weak and even use our weakness to accomplish something good, the less we will feel we have to protect and the easier it will be to be authentic. Effortlessly authentic. Because we know who we are in Him.
Anything else isn’t of Him. Hiding, self-protection, shame? They are from Satan. I mean, what does Satan love more than hiding behind a good lie? Very rarely do people, I think, make the conscious decision to follow Satan. Rather, they believe a lie. They decide that walking down a certain path is “harmless”. Satan loves a lie and he loves a disguise. He would love to be seen as harmless; that is how he can work so effectively still, even among those of us who belong to Christ.
Satan would love for us to think we have to hide. But Jesus showed us we don’t.
I was reading yesterday about how Jesus’ disciples had to make a decision when agreeing to follow Him- they had to make the decision to follow Him, even though they knew that not everyone would understand. They knew that it was possible that even their own friends and family would judge them. Maybe even mock them. They had to make the decision to follow Him even though their reputations were on the line.
I think that’s really significant. Since the beginning, following Jesus has been the less “safe” and “comfortable” option. At least when viewed from the world’s perspective. It’s risky. Since the very first people said, “Yes, Jesus, I will follow you,” they had to decide that the Lord’s opinion of them mattered more than the world’s. They had to know and trust that even if following Jesus led them to places that felt unsafe or scary, they were ultimately infinitely safer with Him than they ever could have been had they opted to do life on their own.
We are not called to earn or accomplish. We are not called to worry and panic and try to avoid pain and suffering. We are not called to gain the favor of those around us or make enough money to put food on our tables. All we are called to do is follow Him and trust Him with EVERYTHING. Every single result. Every single area of our lives.
We might think we can provide for ourselves, but we can’t. Not really. After all, all good things are from Him, not from us.
“I have yet to have an ailment that God had no salve to soothe…His Word is far more glorious, powerful, and fully applicable than we have any idea.” –Beth Moore
In Psalm 107:20, it says that God “sent His word and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions.”
That’s where it all begins.
I can’t “live well enough” or will myself to be more godly. I am too flawed, too human. And God doesn’t ask that of us anyway. He simply asks us to love Him and seek Him. And He promises to do the rest.
God sent forth His Word.
That’s where it all began. With a word. With His Word.
Any desire to be more like Him or be more authentic or feel less depressed and exhausted and hopeless and anxious, that’s where it begins. In His Word.