Read 1 Timothy 1:12-20 and we see Paul being authentic with Timothy and the church of Ephesus. Authenticity is more a fad word than a reality in todays culture. This is from a journal long ago as we think about the authenticity Paul demonstrates:
I think we over-programmed ourselves. People often do not know how to ‘just be.’ We fight it. Busyness is the vaccine against relational intimacy. We are very busy people, creating very shallow relationships. I wonder if the Simple. Community. Authentic. trend is a discovery of something lost, not something new?
In simple we over program. There are many Christians that are so busy doing good things that their faith is extremely shallow. In zealousness we forget that life is more than just activity. Some churches program their way out of the missions context God placed them in. We are the analogy of a chick-flic where the girl gets the guy and then...role the credits. (Ever wonder what happens next?)
Willow Creek discovered this. They were doing many incredible things, but they were not making disciples as they should. The leadership realized they needed a radical re-working of how they do things to focus on producing disciples. The book Simple Church deals with the same issue among many (most?) churches.
We need commonality for community to exist. The phrase “online community” is used all the time. Let us be honest with each other: we lost what community really means. Social media strikes a chord because as humans we really do crave community. Community is diverse. I disagree with the sentiment that states people are into social media because they want fame. Honestly, that is too complex. People want identity.
If churches traded simplicity for programs, it traded community for commercialism & commodity. The danger of being over programmed is we start treating issues and people as a commodity, as customers and not as they are: People in the image of God. God is infinite, which means if the church is to glorify God (show or demonstrate accurately who He is) it takes diversity. Relationships are organic not synthetic. Ministry is farm work, not lab work; a muddy or dusty field not an assembly line.
We know we have opinions and we know we are not perfect. I find it hilarious how academic writing requires 3rd person (as if that magically more objective) or how we can make things a production instead of just being together and worshiping. A business workshop aptly stated: If you say you’re authentic, you better be, because everyone says it. I often heard from people that: if you have to state something, you’re likely not. If something is true, it will show itself true. Here is the key question: Why do we feel we need to say we are authentic?
My English prof described a hard conversation with her parents. She wanted to know if her parents were saved. Her mom was upset. “Couldn’t you tell by how I lived?” There are eras where how we lived that was the true judge, not what we said. "We need both," Mrs. Williams stated. “I feel as though we lost the art of our living communicating what we believe.”
The Bottom Line:
Simple. Community. Authentic. Maybe we should take off the mask and call them for what they are: three areas where we need to repent. I hope we pursue them less as fad and more as a call to get back to what God wants us to be. I can’t help but notice what is core to each of these three things: People. Love God...Love People...Simple. Community. Authentic.