Authenticity is a much toted quality now-a-days. We want to know that our friends, our feelings, our beliefs are 100 (% real). Most of all we want to believe that we ourselves are authentic- genuine to what we say we hold as true and important.
Meaning what? Usually this shapes out in two streams. (1) I want to be able to be as raw and real, as self-revealing, self- actualizing, self- identifying as I want to be- without anyone giving me push back or questioning what I might consider ‘my authentic self’ (2) I will no longer live under the excuses that I have constantly made, or the script that has been handed to me, or in the shadows of what my life has become- I will live life out of my most authentic expression of my success that I can. I will realize myself to a better life (equated as a more authentic life).
Both of these version of ‘authenticity’ are based out of ME, MY, MINE own self as the basis of authority for what is truly real and best for me. It is truly a prime doctrine of our westernized world.
There are all kinds of reasons why we might not want to hear that these versions of authenticity may be a great deceit of our age.
“It’s discouraging to think how many people are shocked by honesty and how few by deceit.”
― Noël Coward,
Calling ourselves “christian” or attending a church doesn’t exempt us from being deceived by this very same doctrine of deceit. It is very possible that even now we might simply be living a life with the prime goals of self-actualizing but trying to use Jesus as one of many means to becoming all we believe we deserve to be. To get all that we believe we deserve to get.
A read through Revelation, particularly chapters 17,18 gives us a terrifying panoramic view of how drunk we get on the deceitful promises of self-actualizing. Paying close attention to the source of these deceitful promises (pictured here as a seducing harlot that drinks blood and a promised city of hope that delivers only sorrow). This is to serve as a resoundingly shocking picture to those who’s minds and hearts believe that we are meant to finally be all we can be through the resources of embracing self (read: self-effort, self-comfort, self-forgiveness, self-worth, self-indulgence, self-realizing- pretty much all that the western world equals as our greatest expression of authenticity). The shock comes to those of us who call ourselves Christians when we realize that living for a self-indulgent life is always opposed to the goodness and glory of God. My self-determined life is always opposed to, at war with, the will of God.
These are some incredibly important truths to wrestle with. I have been trying to work this through in the 20 some passages of the New Testament where Christ’s followers are warned by Jesus, the Disciples and Paul, “Don’t be deceived” – (study note: most of these passages fall into one of two categories regarding living a deceived life 1- deceived by living out of the resources of a deceiving kingdom 2-deceived by living out of personal deceiving desires)
It is incredibly easy to believe that what I am understanding about myself, what I want, what I need. How I choose to live my life. What gender, what role, what I want to understand as truth is REALLY 100% the authentic self-expression of who I am convinced I am supposed to be. I then shape my own life around what I hold as my truth for me. So that the very truths of God sound strange or strained in my ears and life. The sin of selfish living becomes my norm, my custom. When this begins to take place we are being intoxicated by the seductive harlot that drinks the blood of the saints of God. We are believing and living in a Kingdom that promises hope but is only able to deliver poison.
The custom of sinning takes away the sense of it, the course of the world takes away the shame of it.- John Owen, “The Works of John Owen” 1826
“Come out of her, my people, lest you take part in her sins, lest you share in her plagues”
– Jesus, Revelation 18:4
The truth of who we are is ultimately and most greatly realized in the purposes and hope of God’s great plan of redemption in our life.
“The joy of seeing God is the true blessedness of man, because the fountain that supplies it is equal to man’s desire and capacity”– Jonathan Edwards, ‘Altogether Lovely, early 1800’s
“Don’t be deceived”
Thanks for reading