Let me give you a definition of “authenticity.”  Authenticity is a collection of choices we make every day.  It’s about the choice to show up and be real.  The choice to be honest.  The choice to let our true selves be seen.  We’re going to stop pretending to be perfect.  We are going to use less makeup.  We aren’t just going to tell only the good stories about our accomplishments.  We are going to be honest and real with our good and our bad.

I think most of us in our hearts realize this is the best way to live.  It’s no fun to have to pretend.  We don’t like people who are fake.  We know in our hearts we should be ourselves.  That’s the message of just about every Brady Bunch and Full House episode: “Just be yourself Marsha.” We know we should be authentic, but advertisers tell us a different story.  Their message is to use makeup, to make sure your hair is shiny and full of bounce, to use crest white strips and tummy control underwear, and whatever you do, don’t forget to dye those roots.

Unfortunately for you ladies, you are often the target of this message to fake it. Let me give you an idea of what lengths magazines go to in order to make a woman, even an already beautiful woman, look good enough to be on the cover.  Years ago Michelle Pfeiffer appeared on the cover of a magazine with the caption, “What does Michelle Pfeiffer need?  Absolutely nothing.”  Turns out that wasn’t exactly true.  Here is the touch-up artist’s bill for what needed to be done to make Michelle Pfeiffer look beautiful enough to make the cover:

  • Clean up complexion
  • Soften eye lines
  • Soften smile line
  • Add color to lips
  • Trim chin
  • Remove neck lines
  • Soften line under earlobe
  • Add highlights to earrings
  • Add blush to cheek
  • Clean up neckline
  • Remove stray hair
  • Adjust color and add hair on top of head
  • Add forehead
  • Soften neck muscle
  • Clean up folds under arm

And this is just a partial list. Our world doesn’t tell us to be authentic.  It has one message.  Fake it.  If you have a flaw cover it up.  Use make up, only tell stories of your successes, hide your failures, only post to Instagram your moments of happiness and fulfillment.

Get Real

But life isn’t like that, is it?  We all have flaws.  We all make mistakes.  We have good parts of our personality and parts that don’t fit in. We succeed sometimes and fail a lot of times. We make good jokes, and others that are followed by awkward silences.  That’s life.

At Canyon Springs Church, we are committed to being authentic people

Do you know where you will find that kind of authentic lifestyle portrayed.  You probably already know what I’m going to say: The Bible.  It is as real and authentic as you will ever get.  I want to take a moment to tell you a few stories from the Bible that will seem totally random but trust me, I will connect them in a moment.

Authenticity in the Word

Let’s start near the beginning.  Abraham is considered the father of our faith.  In fact, Abraham is considered the father of three different faiths:  Christianity, Judaism and Islam.  So he was a great, godly guy, right?  Well…sort of.  There was a famine in the land so Abraham moved into Egypt. When he entered this new land he got scared.  You see his wife was younger than him and she was very beautiful. Abraham thought that if he came to this new land with a hot wife, the people in this country would kill him to get to her.  So when they entered the new land he lied and said she was his sister.  Sure enough the Pharaoh noticed that she was indeed hot and took her to be one of his wives.  After she moved in Pharaoh and his whole house got sick, Pharoah knew instantly something us up so he went to Abraham who finally told the truth.   How do you think that situation went over with Sarah? I’ve done a lot of dumb things to my wife, including buying her a vacuum for her birthday.  I told that story a couple of weeks ago only to find out that my friend Paul trumped me on that one: He once bought his wife a leaf blower.  We’ve been forgiven for those mistakes, but this one I don’t think I’d be forgiven for.  That’s bad, right?  But if you can believe it, he did that exact same thing again.

Let’s move on to probably the most revered man in the Old Testament: Moses.  Moses was a legend.  Moses was adopted as a baby and later on learned that he was an Israelite.  Now, he couldn’t tell people that because the Israelites were enslaved by the Egyptians, but it did change his perspective.  One day he was walking along and noticed a Hebrew slave being beaten.  It made Moses so angry he beat the slave driver to death.  I’ve been angry before…really angry…just last week during the Chargers game in fact, but never enough to kill.  Killing is not on my resume or your resume, but it is in Moses resume.

Rahab is a well-known name in the Bible. She’s actually a woman of great faith, but that’s not how she’s known, is it?  Can you fill in the blank?  She is called Rahab the____Prostitute.  This is a woman that was either financially destitute and starving so she turned to prostitution or she was sold into slavery.  God got a hold of her, but prostitution is in her past and so it will always be how she is known.

Let me tell you the story of Barak.  Deborah the prophet was told by God to send Barak and 10,000 men into battle to fight for Him.  But Barak wouldn’t go unless Deborah went with him.  So Deborah said this, “Sure, I’ll go, but because you wouldn’t go alone, the honor for the victory is going to a woman.”  To this day, it is Deborah that is credited with the victory, not the warrior Barak.

How about Samson? You’ve all heard the name Samson.  Samson was known for his great strength.  The Bible also tells about his anger issues, his disobedience, and the fact that he was a mass murderer.

David killed Goliath.  He also slept with Bathsheba and had her husband killed.

The Word

Those are all random stories in the Bible so why did I tell them to you?  Quick question to you sports fans: If you are going to the Football Hall of Fame, where are you headed?  Canton, Ohio.  If you are going to the Baseball Hall of Fame, where are you going to go?  Cooperstown, New York.  If you are looking for the Bible Hall of Fame, where do you look?  Hebrews 11. It’s called the Hall of Faith.  Let me point out a few verses:

1 Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. 2 This is what the ancients were commended for. Hebrews 11:1,2

8 By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. Hebrews 11:8

24 By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. 25 He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. Hebrews 11: 24-25

31 By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient. 32 And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, 33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. 35 Women received back their dead, raised to life again. Hebrews 11: 31-35

Did you notice who made it into the hall of fame?

  • Abraham, the liar
  • Moses, the murderer
  • Rahab, the prostitute
  • Barak, the wimp
  • Samson, the anger management drop-out
  • David, the adulterer

The Bible doesn’t say fake it; The Bible tells it like it is.  The Bible doesn’t spend any money on touch up.  Somehow it feels like God is doing this wrong.  If I was starting a new way of life, I would want to portray the people who were success stories.  I would want to show people whose lives were examples of how great this new lifestyle is.

The Bible doesn’t do touch up. But you know who does? Churches do. Most churched people say dress up, hide your true self, don’t admit your failures.  But we don’t.  Here’s why. Authenticity breeds wholeness.  Authenticity is the first step to growing into the person you want to be.  Let me give you some of God’s ideas on authenticity

Say It

Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.  I Samuel 16:7

Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. James 5:16

You, God, know my folly; my guilt is not hidden from you. Psalm 69:5

When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.” And you forgave the guilt of my sin. Psalm 32:3,5

Here’s why God wants us to be real and authentic.  It’s the first step in becoming the people we want to be.  Brene Brown puts it like this: “Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are.”

Let that sink in.

[bctt tweet=”Let go of who you think you are supposed to be and embrace who you are. #canyonsprings” username=”canyon_springs”]

Action Steps

Let me give you a couple of steps to put you in the right direction. I’d like to encourage you to commit to doing one of these things this week to help you live a more authentic, more complete life.

  1. Allow yourself to be imperfect.  Realize that none of us have it all together
  2. Find someone to share your story with. “Shame hates it when we reach out and tell our story. It hates having words wrapped around it—it can’t survive being shared. Shame loves secrecy. The most dangerous thing to do after a shaming experience is hide or bury our story. When we bury our story, the shame metastasizes.” Brene Brown
  3. Understand that you are loved by God just as you are.  
  4. Know that your weaknesses are what makes you human.  It is those weaknesses that bring you to God.  It’s those weaknesses that builds compassion inside of you.  It’s those weaknesses that remind you to care for other people because you get what it feels like weak.
  5. Stop trading approval for authenticity. How much do we fake just to fit in?  Here’s the ridiculous thing about faking it to fit in.  None of us like people who are fake.  None of us like people who only tell us the great stories of their life. We don’t want to hang out with people who are walking and talking Facebook posts.  We are drawn to people who are real.  Am I right?  So why do we spend so much time faking it.

Authenticity is the first step to wholeness.  We know it. God knows it. Everyone who’s ever been to an alcoholics anonymous meeting knows it.  This is the first step in any 12 step program: “We admitted we were powerless over our addiction—that our lives had become unmanageable.”

If you want to be whole as a person it starts with being an authentic person.  Canyon Springs is a place where you can be imperfect and struggling and sinful and we will still love you. That doesn’t mean we agree with your sinfulness any more than we agree with our sinfulness.  But your imperfection will be embraced.

The Hard Truth

At Canyon Springs, we are committed to being authentic people which means we are also committed to telling you the authentic truth about God. Sometimes that means talking about the ugly side of following God. We will give it to you straight even when it’s hard. I’d rather give you American Christianity: Just pray, work hard, do your best and God will make all your lottery tickets winners.  But that’s not real. That’s not authentic.  It doesn’t represent what this book tells us about following God.  Let me point you back to Hebrews 11.  Verse 33 tells us about people

33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. 35 Women received back their dead, raised to life again. Hebrews 11:33-35

That’s where I would like to stop reading.  They conquered kingdoms, and shut the mouths of lions and received their dead back to life.  That’s what I want out of Christianity, but unfortunately the chapter continues.  Look at verse 35:

35 There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. 36 Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— 38 the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground.39 These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, 40 since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect. Hebrews 11: 35-40

Let me get real for a second.  I believe that if you put God first in your life, it will be better.  You will find peace.  You will have purpose.  The value of your life will be raised.  You will raise the value of those around you.   You will leave a legacy. But that doesn’t mean that life will be easy.

The Bible promises

  • That life will be hard
  • That you will be persecuted
  • That you could be mocked for your faith
  • That you will be an outsider

That’s the truth of it.  But it’s in those moments that you and I grow.  It’s in those moments that you and I learn compassion.  The hard times suck.  They do.  I hate that you have to go through them. But God has this unique ability to grow us through them.  To make us stronger.