The longer I walk this earth and parent and spend time with people, the more I realize how desperately we crave authenticity in our relationships.
Stick with me for a minute on this.
It’s easy to dismiss authenticity as just another one of those trendy words the millennials are throwing at us these days, like GOAT, turnt, and throwing shade. But authenticity is on fleek for our daily lives and an area requiring intentionality if we are going to get woke to its importance.
Sorry, I digressed to millennial speak.
Authenticity matters to our culture, Christians and non-Christians alike. It can lose or win elections, it dominates ad campaigns, makes for high-rated talk shows, and can even tarnish the career of the finest lip-syncers. (Milli Vanilli has more to blame than just the rain.)
But what exactly is authenticity?
In law school, we studied a case on obscenity where a United States Supreme Court Justice famously said that although he could not adequately define obscenity, he knew it when he saw it.
That’s authenticity in a nutshell: it may look different to you than it looks to me, but we know it when we see it. And it’s life-giving. It’s transparency. It’s living life in a way that’s real and genuine, with a willingness to admit our shortcomings and make a commitment to show vulnerability in the hard areas of our life.
So, biblically speaking, why does authenticity matter? And how should it impact the way we interact with our friends and families?
Authenticity Allows God’s Glory to Be Demonstrated in Your Life
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2 Corinthians 12:9
When we make everything look perfect, we rob the Lord of the opportunity to use our life as a witness. What if Moses had covered up his insecurities and said he was a great speaker and undoubtedly the man for the job? Or if Rahab had lied about her past and told everyone she deserved the trust given to her? What if David had lied about his adultery? Or if Paul had lied about killing Christians in his past?
The raw truth of these unqualified, unlikely people in the Bible makes God’s message that much more powerful. It’s his grace alone, not our need to promote diplomas or achievements, that reveals God’s glory. But who can see it when we work so hard to make everything in our lives, our marriages, and our families appear so perfect?
In Glory Days, Max Lucado writes, “‘I was . . . but now’ is the chorus of grace.” You can’t impact those around you with the “but now” in your life if you won’t admit the “I was.”
Authenticity Gives Hope and Encouragement to Those Around You
Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. Ephesians 4:25
All of us are drawn to the people around us who are authentic or “genuine” day to day. Nobody goes into a friendship hoping that person will be fake and consistently act like everything is perfect in their marriage and families. It’s not that we need to walk around airing all our dirty laundry to make others feel better about their situations. But being real in our relationships matters.
Practically speaking? You don’t have to have perfect makeup and clothes for the 8:00 a.m. soccer game. (If you do, we reserve the right to talk about you behind your back. JK.)
If the statistics are right, you likely have a child who struggles academically or has a learning issue. That’s an opportunity to encourage someone else in the same situation.
Finances tight? Deal with anxiety? Struggle with your body image?
Raise a glass (symbolically only, please). We’re all in the same boat! Let’s get it out there and work through life together.
This is not our final resting place, and our hope is not on earth. So, let’s get through it together, pointing each other and others to Christ as we do it. Authenticity allows us to encourage those around us who may be struggling in similar areas.
Authenticity Allows Your Kids to See Truth
Sanctify them in truth; your word is truth. John 17:17
If we shelter our kids from the real-life difficulties we face, we are doing them a disservice. It’s critical they know marriage can be hard, our finances get shaky, and many of the other realities we face in everyday life.
If you have a teenager, you know they can sniff out hypocrisy like no other. I read a study from a few years ago that found the number one factor in whether teens keep their faith in their twenties is whether their parents practiced what they preached at home.
In other words, do we live out our faith authentically, every day, at home, in the minute, as each situation comes up?
Going to church fairly regularly and sending your kids to church camp isn’t a no-fail recipe for raising Christ following adults. Our kids crave the same thing we do as adults: authenticity and truth in how we live our lives and how our faith works when we struggle.
Authenticity Brings the Blessing of Freedom
For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. Galatians 5:13
We all know those people who are focused on making everything look picture-perfect in their lives so that everything looks perfectly put together.
Think about how exhausting that must be.
Nobody truly believes they’ve got it all together, and many of us are definitely watching to see what happens when the other shoe drops. The anxiety isn’t worth it, and it’s not how God designed us to live. Let’s get real and live free from the need to have the fake-Facebook and Pinterest-perfect life.
When you’re in the habit of living life unguarded, you have a sense of freedom— freedom from pretenses and walls that we often put up when we are afraid we aren’t good enough or that our crazy will somehow be discovered. Freedom also allows us to experience true relationships with those around us when we walk through life together, willing to admit our failures and disappointments.