The real and authentic stands out in a world where fake clothes, jewellery, watches, furniture, emails and, sadly, even people (pretending to be who or what they are not) have become commonplace. So, what does it mean to be authentic? According to the dictionary, it means ‘of undisputed origin and not a copy; genuine, real’.
How do you identify the real from the fake, the authentic from the false? It is only by experiencing the authentic on a regular basis. How are people trained to spot fake currency notes? They do not learn to spot counterfeit money by studying the counterfeits. They study genuine notes until they master the look of the real thing. Then when they see the bogus money, they recognise it immediately.
I believe that, as followers of Jesus, we are meant to be authentic, and radically different from the people living around us. How are we to be different? We are to ‘be Jesus’ to them. Jesus was openly willing to rub shoulders with the rejected, the despised, and those who were looked down upon, so much so that it caused the Pharisees to question His disciples and say, “Why does your teacher eat with such people?”
Christ’s default setting was to be drawn to the people others would reject. It was not just an isolated event in His ministry. Time and time again, Jesus was right in the midst of the sick, the poor, the infirm, the demonised, the lepers, the unclean, and the rejected.
How do we become authentic Christians? Remember that the way to spot the fake is to spend as much time as possible studying the authentic. Whom can we study to find out what authentic Christians look like, sound like and how they behave? The answer is Jesus. We need to study Him and His words, and to immerse ourselves in those words daily.
To be authentic we are to be like Jesus, not conforming to the world around us, but being different. Jesus was radically different from the religious people around Him. The poor, the lost and the needy were drawn to Him. We should not sit back and fall into the danger of becoming complacent about sin. It is a good thing to feel miserable when we sin, because, if we love God, we hate to grieve Him. Our feelings of remorse can be the incentive we need to help us choose not to sin, to change our mindsets and to allow the Holy Spirit to keep on changing us from within to become more like Jesus.
The world is desperate to see authentic Christians and an authentic Church, now more than ever. It is time to change and it begins with me and you.
Prayer: Dear Lord. I want to be an authentic Christian. That means learning from You. You are the One who was authentic in everything You did and said. Stir in me the desire to allow Your Holy Spirit to do His work of restoring me to the image You had in mind before I was even born. Thank You that You are in the restoration business and Your desire is to make me more like Jesus. Please help me to make that my desire too. Amen.
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