Friday, August 1, 2008

Is authenticity a worthy pursuit for a believer?

Okay, this may be a long way around to what appears to be a simple question. But it's the path I have been on and it has been a winding road. Over the past few weeks I have been forced to face several of my fears. Not those obvious ones - like butterflies (don't ask!) - but those hidden ones. The ones that really do control me. Like my fear of failure. My fear of being "found out."

I've learned that I rely on myself - my abilities, my knowledge, my desires, my goals - ME! ME! ME! I am scared to let go of what I know "I" can do - scared to find out what God wants me to do. I lack courage, I don't really trust God. That's really hard to admit. I mean, I do trust God to save me, to protect me - but I don't know that I really deeply trust Him with my deepest self. You know, my dreams, my ambitions, my fears.

And so I struggle. I want to believe - to be authentic. I feel like an imposter - others look at me and see something that I'm not sure is really there. I want to be real. But I'm afraid. Afraid of not being good enough. Not being liked. Rejection. I know I need to rest in WHO I am in Christ - but I'm not really sure what that looks like.

As I've been pondering and dealing with this I realized that I know how fake I am sometimes. And then I realized that others probably already know as well. That was an eye-opening moment! Then I wondered, if people already know, what is holding me back? Why not just be real?

I have this opportunity. This moment of self-awareness - granted by the Holy Spirit. And yet, I am still afraid! Scared to death of authenticity. I'm wondering is it wrong to choose to do these things to honor God even though I am not sure I really WANT to? Can I grow spiritually by DOING godly things, pursuing intimacy with Christ, out of obedience - not out of a deep desire - and then find myself changed in the process? Do I have to WANT to be different, 100% WANT that change in me, or is it more than that? Deeper than wanting? Is the higher understanding being obedient regardless of what I "want"? Becoming like Christ through obedience - even grudgingly - is still becoming like Christ, isn't it? Isn't that what "dying to self" is all about? Placing my flesh in submission to His spirit?

What is is that God wants from us? I keep going back through my Scriptural memory bank. Here's what I keep coming up with ...

1 Samuel 15:22 - But Samuel replied, "What is more pleasing to the LORD: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Obedience is far better than sacrifice. Listening to him is much better than offering the fat of rams.

Micah 6:8 - No, O people, the LORD has already told you what is good, and this is what he requires: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.

To obey is better than sacrifice. So if I am following the guidelines in Micah 6:8 - I am living as righteously as my sinful nature allows, I am loving others compassionately, and I am seeking to walk with God as much as I currently understand - am I living in obedience? And if I am - then does all the rest really matter? As long as I am focused on being obedient, will He then be the impetus for growing my faith? Can I actually do anything outside of being obedient in all things that will grow my faith?

And then - back to my original pondering...What does authenticity look like? Does it always look the same? Is there a specific life that is authentic? And why has this become the catch-word in our Christian-ese? Do we really need to be concerned about being authentic? It seems to me that the pursuit of authenticity can become yet another diversion that the enemy uses in our lives. At least I can see where that has happened along the way to me. So, my question is: Is authenticity a worthy pursuit for a believer? Has this become another "10 steps to a more Christ-like life" thing? Have we bought in to a new PR gimmick? Have we become consumed with defining authenticity at the cost of actually being Christ's hands and feet in this broken world?

I guess what I'm beginning to glimpse is that I often get caught substituting "good" for "best" in my disciple's life. I get so busy pursuing authenticity that I forget to pursue Christ. I spend so much time contemplating what I ought to be that I neglect to do what is needed in the world around me. I focus on my growth at the sake of ignoring the needs of others.

I just wonder what my life would look like on a daily basis if my goal for the day was to live out Micah 6:8. I know I've just begun my journey on this new fork in the road of life - but I am excited about what is ahead. And scared. And wondering what God will ask of me - and wondering if I have enough faith, or a great enough desire to be obedient, to DO whatever that is. All I know is this ... I don't think I will ever be "authentic" enough, for there will always be those places inside of me that I keep hidden, those issues that I face which are never shared with others. But, I think that is okay with me. Instead of focusing on that which I can do, I am realizing the need to focus on what Christ can do through me. And as that happens, well, maybe I will become "authentic" but I know I will be looking more like Christ.

So, forgive my rambling, forgive my disjointed thought process, and the poor grammar. And welcome to my crazy mind!!

1 comment:

Moose said...

A thought-provoking post nonetheless! I think it probably is possible to wrongly sub the pursuit of authenticity for the pursuit of God. I have often found myself asking God what I should do, but feel like maybe I'm not important enough for Him to show me. So, I often sub in what I think I should be doing instead of patiently waiting. And, it's all to save face on my part. Anyway, I think the secret is loving and pursuing God, and letting everything else fall into place.