My first "Behind Those Eyes" Bible Study Class was last Wednesday night. I bought the book and started reading the first 2 chapters, which was our assignment for the first week. God immediately started "stepping on my toes", in Chapter 1, about the big "A" word --AUTHENTICITY.
As I was reading the first chapter I started thinking about what the word "authenticity" really means.
"The quality of being authentic; genuineness."
So what does it mean to be "authentic"?
"Genuine; real; true to one's own spirit, personality or character"
"Being exactly as appears or as claimed; not false, imitation or copied"
In regards to our Christian faith, what we mean when we use the word authentic is "to be real"; "to be honest about who we are". Real enough to say that my life isn't perfect. That I have struggles, difficulties, temptations, and, yes, even failures. Why is that so difficult for us to do? Why is it so hard for us to just lay it all out there on the table and admit that we are really broken and weak?
One of the other definitions of authentic is "to be like the original; not copied or imitation". As a Christian, my example is Jesus Christ Himself. Being a Christian is about becoming more like the genuine; the Real One. He is my Original! As I follow Him, I will stumble and fall along the way because of my own imperfections. The Bible says in Romans 3:23, "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."
Somewhere along the way we have gotten the idea that Christians don't have problems. Or, we have bought into the devil's lie that if we have enough faith we won't have any problems! I have even heard TV preachers teach this! That could not be farther from the truth! Jesus' life certainly was not easy! I wonder why we think that we should have it easy?
We go to church and put on our smiling faces and our best clothes, and why do we even do that if we already have it all figured out? Why do we need to go to a place to learn, be built up and encouraged if we already have it all together?
God, through just the first few pages of this book, is challenging me to, lay it all down. To admit that I have many struggles, difficulties, hardships, failures, trials and temptations. To admit that, "No, I am NOT perfect!" "No, I don't have it all together!"
I guess you could sum it up by saying that He is challenging me to "GET REAL"!!
Rather than trying to appear that we "have it all together", we need to be laying it all out on the table and sharing our burdens with our brothers and sisters in Christ. Galatians 6:2 says, "Carry each others burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ". This is one thing that has been such an encouragement to me since I joined this wonderful network of blogging friends. The people I have "met" through blogging are a great example of what I believe God meant in this verse. We carry each other's burdens and pray for and encourage our sisters in Christ.
With those definitions of the word "authentic" in mind, I started thinking about just how authentic I really am? Am I really "exactly as I appear or as I claim to be"? Do you know very many people that are?
As is pointed out in the very first chapter of this study, women are "pros" at impersonating, well......other women. We are so good at "masking" what is really going on in our lives. We camouflage our weaknesses with our perfect makeup, the latest hairstyle, a new designer outfit with a new pair of shoes to match. We think if we smile big enough that no one will know that we are "dying" inside.
As Lisa points out in her book, "we often impersonate the women that we want to be (or those women that we want people to THINK that we area)" --those happy, spiritual, caring, strong, content, loving women that have everything together. You know the ones -- the ones that drive the expensive cars, live in the golf course communities, have perfect children that go to private schools, take exotic family vacations, have "Mr. Wonderful" for their husbands and, of course, are deeply spiritual.
Why do we do this? It's because we have determined that if we were to show our "real" side, if we were to be authentic, that we would not be accepted. So we keep our "true self" hidden. And we've gotten quite good at it, haven't we?
Lisa reminds us that what we really crave is unconditional love and acceptance. We want someone to love us in spite of who we are.
There IS someone that loves each of us in spite of who we are. He loves me just like I am. He loves YOU just like you are and His name is Jesus! Let's GET REAL with Him today!
What you're after is truth from the inside out. Psalm 51:6