by Katie Fruge
Ask anyone over the age of 25 and they would probably affirm that fads come and go quickly. Fashion fads are by far the most popular and quickly lived ones (have you been to Target lately? My 8th grade—1999—closet is haunting the clothing aisles. Chockers?? VELVET TOPS?). In Texas, the big summer fad was slime and fidget spinners. However, I would assume from the huge bin of fidget spinners 75% off at my local grocery store that they too will soon go the way of the gaucho pants. Bless. And all God’s women said “amen”.
Beliefs and worldviews also tend to go through trends, but with significantly longer lifespans than fashion and fidget spinners. Over the past decade a new—and much needed— desire has emerged among believers for a more real, more human, more authentic form of Christianity. We no longer want to just go through the motions at church and pretend as if everything is fine. We crave a community that has room for the good, the bad, the challenging, the ugly, the beautiful. As the world around us spins further toward the artificial, we crave the authentic.
This new draw toward the authentic is so critically important; it touches at the essence of who we are. We were created for community. We were made by the triune (i.e., relational) God to be in relationship. We were redeemed by the triune God to restore a broken relationship. Humanity lives in community and fellowship with one another in a way that is totally unique and separate from the rest of the created universe. True community cannot happen apart from authenticity.
The draw to the authentic is a beautiful reminder that Christ came to save us, just as we are. We do not need to keep Pinterest perfect lives. It gives us freedom to be broken, in need of mending. It allows Christ to meet us and others where we are, not where we want to be. Consequently, true authentic living allows Christ to come in to our messy lives and begin a good work that leads ultimately to our perfection in Him. The whole point of Christ’s work on earth was to redeem and restore a broken relationship. Yet in our drive for authenticity I fear we have taken the beautiful concept of authentically living out our faith and fused it with apathetically living our lives. Authentic living strives for true community with others that embraces all our messes and faults while still striving to live in light of the beautiful, redeeming, fulfilling work of Christ and His transformative gospel. Apathetic living settles for pseudo-community that embraces all our mess and faults but leaves out the transformative effect the gospel should have on our lives.
Authentic living says, this is who I am, yet by grace I am loved.
Apathetic living says, this is who I am, love me or leave me.
Authentic living says, I may be broken or misshaped, but I am clay being perpetually molded by the hands of the Potter.
Apathetic living says, I am complete in my broken and misshapen state. I do not need to change.
Authentic living says my life finds its ultimate fulfillment in Christ.
Apathetic living says my life finds its ultimate fulfillment in the brokenness.
Let’s work together to allow the Gospel to be transformative in our lives! We have all experienced the frustrating hypocrisy of pretending our lives are perfect when they’re not. So many people have stopped attending churches because of the lack of authenticity and the great effort people put into faking that their marriages, lives, and families are doing well.
While we need authenticity not hypocrisy, let’s be careful not to let the pendulum swing too far toward “sinning that grace may abound.” Authenticity for the sake of authenticity will not give you a better life. Authenticity for the sake of Christ and for the sake of being transformed to be more like Christ is what the church needs.
We can be messy, broken, real people. Christ came to save those who were lost and heal the sick! That’s us! These are our people! But we miss out on a fuller and more abundant life when we choose to remain in the brokenness. Christ came to heal and restore. Do not nullify Christ’s redeeming work for the sake of authenticity.
“So if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that’s where the action is. See things from his perspective. Your old life is dead. Your new life, which is your real life—even though invisible to spectators—is with Christ in God. He is your life. When Christ (your real life, remember) shows up again on this earth, you’ll show up, too—the real you, the glorious you. Meanwhile, be content with obscurity, like Christ. And that means killing off everything connected with that way of death: sexual promiscuity, impurity, lust, doing whatever you feel like whenever you feel like it, and grabbing whatever attracts your fancy. That’s a life shaped by things and feelings instead of by God. It’s because of this kind of thing that God is about to explode in anger. It wasn’t long ago that you were doing all that stuff and not knowing any better. But you know better now, so make sure it’s all gone for good: bad temper, irritability, meanness, profanity, dirty talk.” – Col 3:1-8, The Message