By Krista La Greca (Administration)
Authenticity. It’s a word that is often mentioned in many circles, particularly Christian ones but what does it really mean?
The Oxford Dictionary puts it like this,
‘Of undisputed origin and not a copy; genuine’
‘Made or done in the traditional or original way, or in a way that faithfully resembles an original’
‘Based on facts, accurate or reliable’
‘Relating to or denoting an emotionally appropriate, significant, purposive, and responsible mode of human life’
‘Containing notes between the final (the principal note) and the note an octave higher.’
As a human being, we know most of these qualities. Sure, we can be genuine and show others that we care, we can be honest and be a person that is reliable and responsible, but when reading God’s word, it takes on a much deeper meaning.
Ephesians 4:22-24 says "You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness."
A new self?
What if the idea of being authentic, pure, legitimate – real – is like Margery Williams Bianco so beautifully illustrates in her children’s book, The Velveteen Rabbit;
“Real isn’t how you are made’, said the Skin Horse. ‘It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.’
‘Does it hurt?’ asked the Rabbit.
‘Sometimes’, said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. ‘When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.’
‘Does it happen all at once, like being wound up’, he asked, ‘or bit by bit?’
‘It doesn’t happen all at once’, said the Skin Horse. ‘You become. It takes a long time... Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand’
I wonder if this is a bit like us and God. Whether the insurmountable love that God has for us that it causes us to be Real. When we allow ourselves to be loved by someone so fiercely, authenticity is a natural by-product. We cannot help but become our true nature. Our Real selves.
But as most of us know, being Real can come with sacrifices. How do we embody lives that are representations of Real Christians, rather than Perfect Christians?
Maybe it’s admitting when you feel droopy and shabby, and allowing someone to love you in the places where you feel deflated. Maybe you need to check-in with yourself and recognise whether you are showing grace or shame when you react and respond in tricky situations. Maybe you need to seek help, ask for an extra hand and be vulnerable amidst your busy life. Perhaps you are constantly aiming higher, to be better, to do better, but need to be reminded of whether that pursuit is realistic and pure; whether it is modelled against Christ. It may be that your honesty barometer needs re-calibrating, and your actions need to catch up to your words.
Wherever you are in your journey of becoming Real, of living authentically, remember that it is a process. Be encouraged that when you stick close to the One who REALLY loves you, that you will become your own Real; genuine.
Remember that it doesn’t matter if others believe you are ‘ugly’, but it does matter if you aren’t Real, because then you miss out on the representation of the God you serve. The God who loved you into being. The God who is Love.